Maine’s first-in-the-nation system that allows voters to rank candidates in order of preference has caused some confusion in the lead-up to Election Day next month.

The system applied to all state and congressional races in the June 12 primary election, but for the Nov. 6 general election, ranked-choice voting will be in place only for the U.S. Senate race and both U.S. House races. It will not apply to the governor’s race or to any state legislative races.

Voters approved ranked-choice voting by referendum in 2016 but it wasn’t implemented until this year because of multiple legal challenges. One of those challenges led the Maine Supreme Judicial Court to issue an advisory opinion concluding that applying ranked choice voting to general elections for state representative, state senator or governor would violate the Maine Constitution. However, elections for federal offices are governed by statute and not the Maine Constitution, according to the Secretary of State’s Office.

So on Nov. 6:

For the U.S. Senate race, voters should rank three candidates, incumbent Angus King, Republican Eric Brakey and Democrat Zak Ringelstein.

For the 1st District race, voters should rank incumbent Democrat Chellie Pingree, Republican Mark Holbrook and independent Marty Grohman.


And for the 2nd District race, voters should rank incumbent Republican Bruce Poliquin, Democrat Jared Golden and two independents, Tiffany Bond and Will Hoar.

For the governor’s race, voters should only choose one of the four candidates: Republican Shawn Moody, Democrat Janet Mills or independents Alan Caron and Terry Hayes.

Additionally, any state representative or state senate races are not subject to ranked-choice voting.

Ranked-choice voting only comes into play if no candidate reaches 50 percent on the first ballot. If that doesn’t happen, the lowest-ranked candidates is then eliminated and the votes are re-tabulated with the second choices. This happens until there are two candidates left and one receives a majority of votes.

Comments are no longer available on this story

filed under: