January 18, 2013

Letters to the editor: 'Instant runoff' right for governor's race

Maine's governor should have the support of a majority of voters, and the best way to ensure that support is to provide for "ranked-choice voting" (also known as "instant runoff voting").

click image to enlarge

Voting results for each candidate are displayed Nov. 9, 2011, the day after Michael Brennan was elected mayor of Portland by ranked-choice voting. This system, in which voters express their preferences for more than their first choices, would be a good way to select the next governor of Maine, readers say.

2011 File Photo/Gregory Rec

Portland's 2011 mayoral election demonstrated that this system works well and does not add significant expense or delay.

Since more Maine voters are independents than members of any political party, we can expect a number of candidates to run for governor.

If there are more than two candidates, it is entirely possible that no candidate will receive a majority of the vote. Voters should have the opportunity when they vote to express their preference for their second and additional choices if their preferred candidate does not receive a majority of the vote.

If no candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote, a process of eliminating candidates and transferring votes would begin.

First, the candidate who received the lowest number of first choice votes is eliminated from the race. Voters who selected the eliminated candidate as their first choice will have their vote transferred to their second choice.

If any candidate has a majority after the redistributed votes are counted, then that candidate is declared the winner.

If still no candidate has a majority of the vote, then the process of eliminating candidates and transferring votes is repeated until one candidate has a majority.

That way, the ultimate winner will be the candidate who best reflects the will of the voters.

Andrew and Lindsey Cadot


To improve your health, don't focus on weight loss

It's that time of year again when many will resolve to lose weight. Most people accept as fact that weight loss will improve health. Yet no study has unequivocally proven this to be true.

In fact, studies have consistently shown that weight cycling leads to more weight gain over time, increased risk of premature death, increased risk of binge eating, increased risk of cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure and diabetes, and increased risk of depression, anxiety and eating disorders.

Studies also consistently show that 95 to 99 percent of dieters will regain the weight that was lost and often more.

A recent study in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association barely made news, but revealed that adults with body mass indexes between 25 and 29 ("overweight" by current U.S. standards) are at decreased risk of mortality compared to "normal"-weight adults.

Adults with BMIs between 30 and 34 ("obese" by current U.S. standards) are at no greater risk of mortality than "normal"-weight adults. The fact is that it is more dangerous to be five pounds underweight than it is to be 75 pounds "overweight."

The industries profiting from our obsession with weight loss hope the truth remains a secret and dieters continue to feel like failures.

Studies show that even light amounts of physical activity and small changes in nutrition (i.e., increasing fiber) can improve health. My hope for 2013 is that more people accept their own and others' bodies as they are and focus on improving health, not losing weight.

Rhonda Lee Benner

North Yarmouth

More guns in U.S. schools won't halt more Newtowns

I listened in disbelief as a National Rifle Association spokesperson proposed that our schools hire armed guards as a solution to the decades-long plague of gun violence in this country. Add more guns? And what is next -- bulletproof vests for all students?

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