Early in June I waited more than two hours for my turn to address the Legislature’s Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee on the day the committee heard testimony on bills related to ranked-choice voting. In my testimony, I urged the committee to reject a bill that would repeal the ranked-choice voting law outright, and rather to initiate a process to amend the Maine Constitution so that the law can be implemented fully in all elections.
I supported the ranked-choice voting initiative, in the form of Question 5 on last November’s ballot, all through the campaign in 2016. I spoke out in favor of the civil political campaign discourse that political scientists and citizens know ranked-choice voting methods promote. Indeed, studies of countries where ranked voting is used report evidence of greater civility among candidates and their campaigns during the election season.
Another advantage of ranked voting is the finding that more eligible voters engage in the voting process — they show up to vote — when compared to elections held in similar communities that use the “first past the post,” or plurality, voting method. While plurality methods are traditionally used in the United States, our country is one of a very small number of developed democracies that use the plurality system.
Greater civility in elections and greater voter participation sound like great outcomes to me. Yet, electing officials who have the support of the voters is perhaps the strongest reason to enact ranked-choice voting in Maine.
I urge legislators to follow the will of Maine voters and deny the repeal of the ranked-choice voting law. Instead, seek a way to make ranked-choice voting the process that will be used in all state and federal elections in Maine.