November 4, 2012

Another View: Ranked-choice voting worked in Portland to make race more civil

As we come to the end of a tough campaign, we should consider this reform for the future.


I was glad to see the recent op-ed by John Anderson supporting ranked-choice voting ("It's time to eliminate 'spoilers' and use ranked-choice voting," Oct. 25). He is right that use of that process would prevent "spoilers" from blocking the election of a candidate who has the support of a majority of citizens. Achieving that goal is very important in a democracy, and brings about stronger support for those leaders we elect.

Two other good results come from ranked-choice voting and use of the so-called instant runoff process.

First of all, a broader array of candidates can seek office and have a realistic opportunity of victory. That enriches the discussion of issues and broadens the choices we are given to consider.

More important, I have learned from Portland's mayor, Mike Brennan, that a ranked-choice election process becomes far more positive in nature, and gets rid of the tear-down-the-other-candidate campaigns that we have been experiencing lately.

As Mayor Brennan pointed out in a recent talk at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, in a ranked-choice voting election each candidate is seeking to come out in first place.

However, because the candidate also wants people to select you as their second or third choice, they are reluctant to make disparaging remarks about another candidate who may be that voter's first choice. As a result, Portland's recent mayoral contest was characterized by issue-oriented debates, rather than mud-slinging matches.

I am ready for more positive campaigns after surviving the one we have just experienced, and adopting a ranked-choice voting process is an important step in that direction.

Cushman D. Anthony of Falmouth is a fomer member of the Maine Legislature.


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