I was pleased to read the Portland Press Herald’s Jan. 31 editorial on ranked-choice voting (“Our View: Group looks to 2016 for ranked-choice vote”).

I collected almost 700 signatures and had a chance to talk to a great number of people on the subject. The No. 1 substantive reason that people gave for not signing was that they thought the current system was “just fine.” Many self-identified as supporters of our current governor who thought that a change would work against them.

In effect, these individuals believe that the only way for their candidate to win would be to have an election with three or more candidates who would split the vote. Implicit in that assumption is a belief that their preferred candidate could never win a majority in a one-on-one election.

Is that an assumption that should guide us in our voting choices? That we want candidates elected who cannot get a full majority?

Ranked-choice voting is truly nonpartisan. A plausible argument can be made that, had ranked-choice been in effect during the 2014 election, we would have had the same result. The difference is that the winner would have had a true majority.

Ranked-choice voting offers many other benefits as well. It encourages nonparty candidates to run on many different platforms without fear of being labeled as spoilers, giving voters some real choices.

It should also act to discourage negative campaigning, since a successful candidate will need not just first-choice votes but second-choice votes as well (assuming a three-way race). For the same reason, it should reduce partisanship in increasingly divisive elections.

Cleaning up our electoral process does not depend on the candidates who are running. A fair process offering full choices to voters is the necessary first step. Ranked-choice voting gives Mainers an opportunity to say “Dirigo” with pride!

Cushing Samp


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