Franklin Countys First News

Letter to the Editor: On ranked choice voting and the People’s Veto

While the people of Maine easily passed a referendum to institute ranked choice voting (also known as instant run-off) in the fall of 2016, the Maine Legislature has done its best to prevent it from happening.

Ranked choice voting would allow voters to rank the candidates for statewide national office in order of preference, and redistribute the votes of the least popular candidate if there is no majority (i.e., over 50 percent) winner. Those whose first choice was least popular would have their 2nd choice counted, and so on until a clear majority winner emerges.

Many party politicians (both D and R) oppose the concept because it makes 3rd party candidates more viable. Some argue without good evidence that the vote-counting process would be too complicated for towns to manage. Some seem to have a difficult time understanding the concept, insisting (mistakenly) that it would contradict "one-person-one-vote." As a result of this consternation and confusion, the Legislature voted simply to delay any implementation of ranked choice voting until 2021, a move which is viewed as effectively obliterating it.

A large body of Maine voters is so convinced of the logic behind ranked choice voting that they are determined to obtain the 63,000 or so signatures from registered voters required to effect a People's Veto, a special provision in Maine voting law allowing the state's citizens to overturn a recent act of the legislature. If the signatures are obtained in time, it will be on the June 2018 ballot and we can re-enact it.

I would like to urge your readers to strongly consider supporting this People's Veto campaign by signing a petition if they encounter one. As a state, we can only benefit from a system ensuring that candidates nominated or elected actually appeal to a majority of the voters, not just 34 percent, which is currently possible. Ranked choice voting would allow us to vote for who we REALLY believe would be best, not just most likely, so you wouldn't feel you are wasting your vote or being a "spoiler."

Sign a petition to put voting back in the hands of Maine voters!

Cynthia Stancioff

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17 Responses »

  1. Constitution beats the people, as powerful as the people think they are the constitution is more powerful. Ranked choice voting violates both of them.

  2. While there's no question a majority favored ranked choice voting in 2016, it was not an "easily passed referendum." Large sums of money and an extensive campaign effort went into promoting RCV, while there was little organized opposition nor money spent opposing the measure. A 52%-48% outcome is the definition of a narrow win.

  3. I was also about say that (unconstitutional).

  4. Hrtless and Maineiac, What Article and Section of the Constitution are you referring to? I'm asking because I can't find it anywhere in the Constitution and your opinions above don't offer any sources other than to reference the entire document. If you could at least state the Article and section, it would help. I will give you a link so we are looking at the same Constitution. Thank you.

  5. I would refuse to sign such a Petition.if asked.

  6. sammo - it's in the State of Maine Constitution. You're barking up the wrong tree.

  7. Article IV section 5 of the Maine constitution.

  8. Ranked choice voting being passed simply proves stupid people vote.

  9. ... who likes it if 37% of voters can decide an election and 63% go unrepresented, if there are 3 candidates on the ticket? How is that right? Rank Choice Voting is how we move toward something besides a 2 party system.

    The League of Women Voters supports RCV:

    Maine's state constitution has been changed many, many times. Here's a big long list of the changes:

  10. I have been wanting to hear a detailed explanation of opposition to this idea. On the pro side, they say everything about it is great in very simplistic ways, easily convincing so many. The idea that suddenly everyone will be able to vote the candidate they really want is ludicrous. I'm 56 and every vote I've ever cast is for the least worst of the bunch. I think it leaves the system open to a lot of potential abuse with a mix of some people's first choices, some people's seconds and some thirds. Reminds me of the number of counties in some states with more than 100% of eligible voters showing in the results.

  11. The fool and Nerf, thank you for pointing me in the right direction. The argument that it's in the constitution is valid simply because of the word "Plurality" but that can be changed. It will be hard because it doesn't benifit those in charge of changing it and I'm sure they will kick and scream and throw fits over why it's going to hurt everyone. When these documents were written it was a very different time in this country and we have lost so much of our power as taxpayers since then. We lack growth. I personally see bipolar political extremism as the biggest threat to this country and state. We should not be held hostage by a polar opposites who use it to maintain power, it hurts us as a county, state, and community. Neighbors fighting neighbors who blindly repeat anything they see in memes, talk radio, and this is where it gets scary, some of you seem to whole hardheartedly believe this manipulating propaganda. And I'm not talking about people who use catchphrases like they are still a simulated reality host, this is real life now. Look at some of the comments above that add nothing to this conversation except to call groups of people names Do we really elect people by choosing the best at name calling? That would be a yes, I know more about the playground fight tit for tat between candidates than I do the issues they truly represent because issues are now just implied. I know how much each candidate (wastes) spends to win. I want to see real candidates not just a poster-child for right and left. We need to wake up and be informed. Freedom is only viable if we use it correctly. One place we could actually make a difference is by allowing more political party voices into the mainstream but as we see at a state level the elected "with plurality" representatives block the majority of peoples votes. This is not a functioning republic system it is an all out oligarchy driven by personal interests. It's time to level the playing field and take something back or maybe "the people" just need to compete with corporate lobbyists and start our own kickbak for votes pool. Or we let people who represent less than half the population rule over one hundred percent of the population to further personal agendas.

  12. Under the 14th amendment of the US constitution's equal protection clause, that a person's vote cannot be more than another person's vote. One person one vote. And, if there are only 2 total candidates for any particular office RCV doesn't work.

  13. " a state level the elected "with plurality" representatives block the majority of people's votes. This is not a functioning republic system, it is an all-out oligarchy driven by personal interests."

    GOOD QUESTION: Do "...we let people who represent less than half the population rule over one hundred percent of the population to further personal agendas...?"

    Maine keeps 'allowing' that to happen by having no winner with a "majority" of the vote.

  14. RCV violates the 1 vote per person rule, and therefore it's unconstitutional. Doesn't matter what "The People" wanted....that is known as "democracy", which we are not. We're a constitutional republic.

    It would be far better to vote again to resolve the issue. 1 person, 1 vote.

    This referendum process is pretty shifty, if you ask me....

  15. They that get the most voters win...plain and simple!

  16. RCV to work in Maine, it needs a constitutional amendment. To get that amendment it needs 2/3rds of BOTH houses and the voters, RCV didn't pass by 2/3rds the first time. It stands no chance the second.

  17. This issue is very simple, but is not being handled very well by the voters in Maine or by the people they elected to represent them. Clealy the issue is that some elected officials gain office with barely a third of the votes cast. These officials were not voted by a majority of Maine citizens. If Ranked Choice Voting is not constitutional, then another method should be instituted. When no candidate wins 50% plus 1 vote, the election should go to a run off election. The two candidates with the most votes should have to face off in a new election. This honors the principle of one person one vote. Of course, if this idea were passed by the voters in Maine, our elected officials would be under no obligation to implement the law.