Ranked-choice voting was approved by public referendum in 2016. Maine’s November 2018 election was the first time it was used to elect members of Congress.

Let’s take a quick look at what was promised to us in order to persuade us to vote for ranked-choice voting and what really happened in the 2nd Congressional District race.

First, we were told it would reduce negative campaigning and, therefore, less money would be spent. Sadly, ranked-choice voting failed abysmally at these goals. The race between was one of the most expensive and dirtiest in Maine history. More than $31 million was spent in favor of Jared Golden, and most of that money was for negative, unfounded ads against his opponent.

Second, we were told we could vote for the person, not the party, allowing third-party candidates a better chance. But the combined total of votes for third-party candidates in the 2nd District was only a single-digit percentage and the final winner of the race was a major-party candidate.

Finally, we were told that the winner would get a majority — more than 50 percent — of the total votes cast. But even that didn’t happen, and according to the Democracy Journal, it usually doesn’t. The Maine secretary of state’s office tells us that the total number of votes cast was 296,077. Half of that number would be 148,039. But the winner, Golden, received only 142,440 — far less than a majority. That’s because many ballots, over 5,600, were thrown out in the second round, which results in a much smaller number needed to win. This most important aspect of ranked-choice voting was simply false.

Ranked-choice voting is a complicated and convoluted solution in search of an imaginary problem. It solved no electoral problems, created a long and contentious recount, and the winner will forever be in doubt.

Diane Vernesoni


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