Yes on Question 5: Restoring majority choice

Dear Editor:

The most hopeful choice on Maine’s ballot I’ve seen in a long while is people’s referendum question 5 on ranked-choice voting. After how many divided elections resulting in the majority’s least-preferred candidate, we now have the opportunity to redefine how we elect our U.S. and state representatives, senators and governor. Rather than strategically voting for the least offensive candidate we think has the best chance of winning a polarized partisan race, we could vote for the candidate we truly believe is the best person to represent our interests, confident that our vote would count — if not in the first round of tabulation, then in the next “instant runoff” (see for a detailed description of how the ranked-choice system works).

This opportunity to rate a range of candidates would apply not just in elections but in primaries, improving our chances to elect genuine, qualified, reasonable leaders. It would broaden the conversation about issues and solutions, and discourage partisan negative campaigning, as voters could rate more than one preferred candidate.

A move to the ranked-choice system would restore Maine elections to majority rule, as our constitution was originally drafted, and is consistent with the purpose of the plurality provisions amended between 1847 and 1878 (see The first step is to determine the will of the people via referendum vote. Then a constitutional amendment would need to be made prior to 2018, and the tabulation system ironed out — an opportunity for an innovative IT team and Maine voters to set a new standard for the rest of the country. We can do this. The alternative — the continuing death spiral of partisan gridlock, bigotry, division, corruption, dysfunction — is unacceptable.

There has never been a more important time to exercise your power to vote. If you favor democracy, civility, opportunity, diversity, choice, environmental health and a more hopeful future, be sure to get out and vote for the candidates best qualified to protect those values, and vote “yes” on Question 5 for ranked-choice voting.


Jane Crosen Washburn


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