Voters in Maine can be very proud that despite the actions of Republicans in the Legislature who disregarded several of our votes, we now can use a more fair and democratic way to vote for the people who work for us in government: ranked-choice voting.

Those of us who voted in the primary in June experienced ranked-choice voting for the first time, and there was a very positive response about the experience. In the upcoming election, however, Maine will only use ranked-choice voting for the federal races, as it is not yet available for use in the general election for governor and Maine House and Senate. For those elections, and until we can persuade our representatives to amend the state constitution, we will use traditional voting methods.

For instance, you won’t get to rank your choices for governor. Since we have four candidates — a Democrat, Republican and two independents — there is a very strong possibility that the spoiler effect will again result in the winning governor being elected with less than a majority, just like in 2010 when Paul LePage won the race with only 37.6 percent of the vote.

That was because votes were spread over multiple candidates with no chance for a runoff so that one candidate would emerge as the majority winner. Ranked-choice voting would have prevented that.

So when you are voting Nov. 6, remember what effect voting for an independent will have. The spoiler effect doesn’t happen in states where only two candidates (one from each major party) are on the ballot. But it can still happen here in the races without ranked-choice voting.

Don’t throw away your vote. The spoiler effect is a very real possibility this year.

Denise Schwartz


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