Ranked choice voting: Fair, simple, needed

Editorial opinions of The Ellsworth American and Mount Desert Islander have concluded Question 5 on the November ballot “…is complicated and eventually could force a constitutional confirmation.”

With respect to the issue of “complicated,” there are few people of voting age I have met who are not able to, when confronted with more than one selection, choose which one they like best, second best, next, etc. We do it every day.

It’s the same with ranked choice voting. Voters rank as many, or as few, candidates as they wish from the one they like most to their least favorite. Ballots are counted. If a candidate receives a majority of the votes, he or she wins. There is no need for any additional action. It is the way democracy is supposed to work. The will of the majority prevails.

If there is no majority winner (50 percent+1), the candidate receiving the least number of votes is eliminated. The voters who chose that candidate as their most favorite will be disappointed that their first choice did not win. However, their second choice will now be combined with the vote total that that person received initially, and the new total will be tallied. If after this round of tabulations a candidate receives a majority of the votes the process ends. The voters will know the winner received the majority of the votes. Again, the will of the majority prevails.

Ranked choice voting is not complicated. It is simple. It is fair.

The editorials warned that a favorable vote for Question 5 “could force a constitutional confirmation.”

Ranked choice voting maintains our democracy, “majority rule.” It also meets constitutional requirements. It has been used legally across the country for years, including Portland, Maine. Courts in four states have ruled the ranked choice voting is fully constitutional and captures truer voter preferences. Voters in every U.S. city where it is used overwhelmingly support it.

The editorials asserted that ranked choice voting might result in lower voter participation. Actually, political science research is overwhelmingly clear that this better system increases voter participation. It helps to make campaigning more civil. Ranked choice voting encourages candidates to listen to more voters about their concerns as they seek to attract more first and second choice rankings.

The American and the Islander claim “Question 5 puts the cart before the horse …” In fact, Question 5 puts the cart right where it ought to be. Changing the way we elect our state’s leaders is a decision that must be made by the voters.

I urge you to vote “Yes” on Question 5 — It’s fair. It’s simple. It’s needed to ensure candidates for governor, congress and our state legislature win their elections by receiving a simple majority of confidence. That’s democracy!

Dennis S. Damon is a former Hancock County commissioner and Maine state senator. He lives in Trenton. He can be reached at [email protected].

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