Election Day is around the corner, and it’s time for Maine voters to educate themselves, not only on the candidates and issues, but also on our new method of voting.

For the first time, ranked-choice voting will be used in a general election for federal office. Both the U.S. Senate ballot and each district’s U.S. House of Representatives ballot will allow us to rank candidates in order of preference, where the winner must achieve a majority. (Ranked-choice voting will not be used in other races in the general election, like governor, Maine House of Representatives and Maine Senate.)

Ranking candidates is simple: If you like one, vote for only that one. If you like two, vote for one as your first choice and one as your second, and so on. It is not necessary to rank all candidates. Each congressional race features at least three candidates, so the ranking of more than one on your ballot may well affect the outcome. In each race, there are Democratic, Republican and independent candidates.

The implementation of ranked-choice voting could have a wide-reaching impact on how campaigns are conducted (they promote more civil discourse); who gets elected (third-party candidates are a more viable option), and reducing gridlock (if more third-party candidates get elected, more collaboration is required in Congress).

Voters should inform themselves about all the candidates for Congress, so that when it comes time to rank them, you know your priorities. Your second or third choice may decide who we send to Washington.

Ben White


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