Last Nov. 8, the ranked-choice voting initiative, Question 5, was approved by voters 52.12 percent to 47.88 percent, from a total of 744,894 votes cast. The issue was whether ranked-choice voting should become part of our voting procedure to better reflect the will of the majority of voters.

As a point of reference, no first-term Maine governor has received a majority vote since 1966; nine of 11 received less than 50 percent and five below 40 percent. Gov. LePage was elected in 2010 with only 37.6 percent of the vote! In essence, our governors have been elected via the political system, not by the popular choice of Maine citizens.

Ranked-choice voting has been in limbo since November, awaiting routine Senate verification. On Feb. 2, the Maine Senate took the unusual step of voting 24-10 to seek state Supreme Court review of Question 5 to determine “whether the ballot initiative was in conflict with the state Constitution.” This was done despite affirming legal opinions submitted by four separate and independent Maine law practices and a University of Maine School of Law professor and constitutional law scholar.

The contested point was the use of “plurality” in the Maine Constitution and “majority” in ranked-choice voting as means to determine election outcome. The individual with a plurality of votes has the greatest number of votes, whereas the individual with the majority of votes has the greatest percent of the total vote above 50 percent. All majorities are pluralities, but not the converse.

Despite significant voter support, forces are seeking to undermine this public mandate because of its threat to the political status quo. While this is primarily a partisan effort in the Legislature, it is not reflective of public support for ranked-choice voting, as witnessed by the 52 percent voter approval of the initiative. Ranked-choice voting returns the power of the vote to the people!

Stanley Payson

Kittery Point

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