In the Maine Sunday Telegram of Nov. 18, an angry letter claimed that ranked-choice voting circumvented the majority will of the voters in Maine’s 2nd District. Not true. The purpose of ranking choices is to make sure the majority of voters are satisfied with the outcome. It also allows lesser known candidates to run, but not spoil the results. The independents in the race for Bruce Polinquin’s seat apparently didn’t have a chance to win. But those who wanted to vote for them could, while also having the opportunity to mark their second and/or third choices. In this election, those choices included both Polinquin and Jared Golden, proving that either candidate could have won. There was nothing stealthy about it.

Interestingly, 10 states, most of them conservative, require a majority to win some elections. Three states, Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi, have runoff elections scheduled. But some voters may not go to the polls a second time, and their choices will be lost. Perhaps these states will consider switching to ranked-choice voting!

Maine’s original constitution called for a majority to win an election. In 1879, however, a three-way race for governor failed to produce a winner. The incumbent was a Democrat; the Republican was in the lead, a few votes short of a majority. The Legislature was supposed to settle this, but the incumbent governor claimed victory by disqualifying thousands of ballots. This travesty almost caused an armed conflict, but was finally settled in favor of the Republican. If ranked-choice voting had been used in 1879, it is clear the Republican would have been elected smoothly. Ranked-choice voting does not favor one party or another. It favors the candidate that is acceptable to the majority of those who voted.

Victoria Adams

West Kennebunk

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