Ranked-choice voting is interesting for a few reasons. Maine is the first state in the nation to try it, apt considering our motto means, “I lead.” It is slightly confusing – for me, anyway, and certainly enough that Secretary of State Matt Dunlap has launched a voter education campaign to explain it.

What’s most interesting about ranked-choice voting to me is that it offers a new, more nuanced and complex way to vote one’s conscience. I’ve decided to put Betsy Sweet at the top of my list, followed by Janet Mills.

Mills is competent and highly qualified, and I suspect she might have a firm handle on what’s going on in Maine and real insights on how to address some of our big problems. But she can also be cutting and caustic, which she’s smart to spin as iconoclastic and rebellious, but savvy voters seeking change may still find too much similarity between her style and that of our current governor and even president.

Sweet’s nature is diametrically opposed to Mills as I perceive both women. She manages to be kindhearted and compassionate and still has the tenacity that voters look for in a gubernatorial candidate. And I’d probably be inclined to do some comparison shopping between her, Mark Eves and Adam Cote if I didn’t have a personal connection with Sweet, long a part of my mom’s extended social network.

This was not an easy decision. I believe that Mills can win in the 2nd District. She is more relatable. She speaks authoritatively and with a Maine accent. And, as I’ve already stated, she really does know what she’s talking about, and rural Mainers are likely to recognize that. But it is Sweet who will be ranked first on my ballot. I feel fortunate to have an opportunity to vote my conscience and maintain my strong-held pragmatic idealism in the same election.

Caitlyn Coyne


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