By Gio DiFazio
Across Casco Bay, in Maine’s largest city, lies a voting system in which elected officials are not chosen using an antiquated and overly simplistic method of election. Portland has been electing their mayor with a ranked-choice system since 2011 and uses the ranked-choice voting system to elect members of its City Council.
In 2010, Paul Lepage won the gubernatorial election with less than 38 percent of the vote (37.6). The Democratic candidate Libby Mitchell only received 19 percent of the vote, while Eliot Cutler, the Independent challenger, finished with 36 percent and Paul LePage won.
Maine has a track record of supporting third-party candidates, which has made gubernatorial elections unpredictable, and unique to the state of Maine. In 2010, Eliot Cutler outmuscled Libby, The Independent candidate, Cutler though fell short to the man we have called our governor of eight years. A man that should have bought it, when he saw it, at Mardens. (Yes, it’s been eight years.)
So in reality, the Democratic challenger stole votes from the independent candidate (Cutler), who had a very good chance of winning if the ranked-choice system were used in 2010.
Again, in 2014, Lepage won the election again, with less than a 50 percent majority.
In 2016, Maine voters elected to use a ranked-choice voting system starting in 2018 for the governorship, senate seats, and other races of office in the State of Maine.
Concerns of the constitutional status of ranked choice voting were brought before Kennebec County Superior Court Judge Michaela Murphy who affirmed a decision made by the people in the 201 She ruled that Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap can proceed with the ranked-choice voting method to be used in the June 12 primaries. At the same time, The Maine Senate, which has a Republican majority, has requested that the method not be used, even though it was approved by voters in a statewide referendum in 2016. These are the people that “support” our interest.
Obviously, the issue is split down the middle with each party taking a hard stance against the other. Democrats are for ranked choice voting, while conservatives are not.
Republican candidate for governor, Mary Mayhew stated that, “This ranked-choice voting thing is a scam and should be repealed immediately,” Because, who actually thinks a system that can rely on parties stealing votes from each other to secure victory is the best way to choose our leaders. Well, Maine Republicans do.
The Portland Press Herald describes the ranked choice voting process in a way more fluent way than I could ever, “Under the ranked-choice system, voters select candidates in order of preference. If no candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote, the candidate with the fewest first-choice votes is eliminated. Voters who preferred the eliminated candidate would then have their ballots added to the totals of their second-ranked candidates, and the ballots would be retabulated. The process continues until one candidate has a clear majority and is declared the winner.” -Portland Press Herald
Maine will be the first state to use the ranked choice voting method in a statewide primary. A system that has been put on trail at the municipal level, in cities like Portland, ranked choice voting is the most fair, and sensible system to use in an antiquated process of election.