Letter to the editor: In a ranked-choice system, all votes matter

Posted:  Sunday, June 18, 2017 - 8:45pm
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Last November, the voters of Maine approved a referendum to institute a ranked choice/instant runoff approach to electing statewide officials. Nearly 400,000 voters, 52 percent of the total, voted in favor of RCV (Ranked Choice Voting), the second largest yes vote on a referendum in Maine history.

Subsequently, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court issued an adverse opinion, indicating that the Maine Constitution requires only a plurality for winning the in-state races (Governor, State Senate, and State House). Since this opinion, the Maine Legislature has been considering how to reconcile the RCV law with the Maine Constitution.

Two alternatives are now being considered by the Legislature: A bill introduced by Senator Cathy Breen, D-Falmouth, which would amend the Constitution to fully implement RCV, and one introduced by Senator Garrett Mason, R-Lisbon, which would repeal the referendum result. Clearly, the appropriate choice is to amend the Constitution to reflect the will of voters. I hope readers will contact their Legislators and ask them to respect the informed choice that voters have made, reject the repeal bill, and follow through on implementing RCV in time for the 2018 election cycle.

You can find contact information here: http://legislature.maine.gov/house/jt_list_alpha.htm.

Ranked Choice will give us the option to both choose the candidate we believe will do the best job, and rank our back up choices as a compromise in the event our first choice does not prevail. Voters will no longer be forced to choose between the candidate who aligns most closely with their beliefs and a candidate who does not, but has a better chance to win, in an effort to prevent a win by someone who even less closely aligns.

In a ranked choice system, all votes matter. It will give all of us the opportunity to vote for the candidate we believe will do the best job. The voters have spoken and our Legislators should assure that their voices guide future elections.

Linda Dartt lives in Montville