The lead editorial in the March 13 Maine Sunday Telegram (“Here’s an idea: Candidates with the most votes win”) is off base in three important ways.

First, it equates allowing pluralities to determine election winners with “democracy in action.” This is narrow-minded. It devalues a host of alternatives, including traditional and “instant” runoffs, as created by ranked voting.

Many such systems are actually in use around the world, and even in the United States. Surely they also qualify as “democracy in action.”

Second, it sets as the hurdle an alternative must clear, the requirement that it produce “a better governor or better governing.”

An alternative hurdle offered later is that the new system could “guarantee that the best candidate wins.” Sadly, there is no way to show that any system would do either of these things.

Once an election has been settled, we live with the results but have nothing to compare them to. The actual results cannot be compared to asserted hypothetical ones.

And the phrase “best candidate” has no meaning. Each voter made a choice of the person that he or she thought was the “best” candidate. But there is no objective way to judge among the alternatives on the good, better, best scale. That is why we have elections.

Finally, we have to fall back on judging the process itself. The hurdle for adoption, then, ought to be that the system confers legitimacy on the winners so that they are able to govern. But legitimacy is not either there or not.

Some systems are arguably better at jumping this hurdle than others. The alternatives criticized in the editorial in fact confer greater legitimacy to the results because they guarantee a majority for the winner.