In your recent editorial urging Mainers to support the ranked-choice voting referendum June 12 (Our View, May 24), you failed to address the fact that it violates the rule of “one person, one vote.”

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that each person gets one vote, just the same as any other voter. That’s the law of the land and includes state elections.

But ranked-choice voting gives some voters more votes than others. If you vote for the candidate who finishes first after the initial computer run on the ballots, you vote just once. Your candidate stays in the race and keeps your vote.

If your neighbor votes for a candidate dropped after the first count, that person gets to have his or her ranked vote counted for another candidate.

In short, you may vote once for a candidate who makes it all the way through to the final tabulation, but your neighbor may keep voting for one lower-ranking candidate after another as his or her higher-ranked choices are eliminated.

With seven candidates, as in this year’s Democratic primary for governor, some voters may get many tries at picking a winner. That’s hardly the same number of votes as the person who first picks a candidate who will make it to the finals.

In the recent Maine Supreme Judicial Court hearing on whether to allow the use of ranked-choice voting in next month’s primaries, one justice raised this very concern. The chief justice said the question would have to be addressed at another time.

That time is coming. Whether ranked-choice voting upholds “one person, one vote” could go to state or federal court or both, its having been reviewed only once, 43 years ago, in a municipal election in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Maine voters may want to end plurality election winners. Fair enough. They should vote “no” on Question 1, and then we can develop a voting method that does not violate the Constitution.

Gordon L. Weil of Harpswell is the editor of a set of U.S. Supreme Court decisions and has a doctorate in public law and government from Columbia University.

Augusta and Waterville news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.


  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.