We’ve now had several experiences in Maine with ranked-choice voting and many people are happy with it.

I, however, disliked it from the start and continue to do so. Primarily, I believe it violates the principle of “one person, one vote.”  In RCV some people get more than one vote – their first choice and their second, third or fourth, etc., if their first, second or third choices are eliminated.

I think it is cumbersome, expensive and results in delays getting results.

According to the League of Women Voters supporters of RCV believe several things:

it gives voters more meaningful choices: RCV allows candidates from outside the two major parties to compete. It helps create a richer dialogue on the issues and increases the diversity of views available for voters to consider;

• It eliminates spoilers and strategic voting: RCV allows voters to support their favorite candidate without worrying they might “throw their vote away,” or worse, split their votes with like‐minded voters and unintentionally help elect the candidate they like the least;

• It reduces negative campaigning: Candidates running must ask for second and, sometimes, third choice rankings. Voters are less likely to rank a candidate highly who is negative toward their preferred candidate; and

• It reduces the influence of money in politics: Campaigns and special interest groups spend a lot of money on negative advertising. By making negative advertising less effective, RCV reduces the need for, and influence of, money in politics.

I share the goals of RCV’s supporters but think there is a better way to elect our office holders.

I believe the California system of “Open Primaries – Top Two” would meet many of these goals and would have other benefits to a voting system that has become less than ideal.  The OP-TT process allows any registered voter to vote in primary elections.  The top two candidates would face off in November even if they were two Democrats, two Republicans or two independents.

Lets see how those goals of RCV were met and how another system may meet them.

• The current system only allows RCV in federal elections and primaries in state races. The primaries do not allow outside candidates to participate.  The Op-TT system allows all voters, R’s, D’s, or I’s to participate in a primary.  More meaningful diversity is achieved through more people participating.

• Spoilers and strategic voting?  Mark Eves and Betsy Sweet cooperated to urge their voters to support the other as their second choice.  That’s strategic voting.  Voters in an open primary would be less likely to vote for a weak candidate of the other party because they would be afraid their preferred candidate wouldn’t make the top two.

• Reduce negative campaigning? No.  Candidates in both parties attacked their opponents in the gubernatorial primary and the Portland mayoral election – just like before.  I do not think open primaries would reduce that either since negative campaigning began in the first elections in this country’s history.

• Reduce outside money in politics?  No.  Emily’s List spent substantial money running negative ads against Adam Cote and Lucas St. Clairs’ best man at his wedding ran expensive, thinly veiled ads supporting him over Jared Golden in the 2nd Congressional District race.  Outside spending was also a controversial issue in the Portland race.

As a long-term Democrat I believe in the two-party system, but now I believe the parties ARE the problem.  Major parties once boasted that they operated as “big tents.”  They had diverse views within but were able to work out compromises and come up with ideas that would benefit the country and have a chance of being enacted. Both, however, have been virtually taken over by their more extreme elements.  As a result very little positive is accomplished in Congress or in the Maine legislature.

I think an OP-TT system would force the parties to recruit more moderate candidates in order to attract the votes of independents.  Un-enrolled voters are now the largest bloc in almost every state.

I agree with the RCV supporters that we need a change.  Let’s try a system that will actually do that.


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