After three years of referendum campaigns and legislative battles, all Maine voters will be able to participate in ranked-choice voting this November. This will occur in elections only for U.S. House and Senate. Both have party and independent candidates running. If no candidate receives a majority of first-choice votes, the candidate with the fewest first-choice votes is dropped and voters who liked that candidate best will have their ballot counted for their second choice. This process repeats until one candidate receives a majority. It is extremely likely the winners will represent the wishes of the majority of voters.

The state general election races for governor, House, and Senate were removed from ranked-choice voting by the people’s veto referendum last June. This was done due to amendments to the Maine constitution in the 188’s following a corrupted election. The Maine Supreme Court has rendered an opinion that ranked-choice voting cannot be used in these races because the 1880s amendments included specific wording that a plurality was sufficient to win. The conditions that initiated the 1880s amendments no longer exist although the plurality provision remains in our constitution. To allow ranked-choice voting in Maine governor and legislative general elections, the next Legislature needs to enact a new referendum for voters to again amend the constitution if they so choose. Therefore it is very important that voters speak directly to their legislative candidates and make sure they will support sending such a referendum to the voters.

There are many legislative candidates, more Republicans than Democrats, that still oppose ranked-choice voting primarily for reasons of short-term political expediency even though ranked-choice voting favors no particular party or candidates over the long term.

However, it does favor the needs of the majority of voters over the short and long term.

Robert Peale


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