On Wednesday, November 18, Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap certified the petition signatures gathered by The Committee for Ranked Choice Voting (RCV Maine) to put RVC on the 2016 ballot. The group obtained over 70,000 signatures in support of the initiative.
The sole goal of the group is to implement ranked choice voting in all statewide elections in Maine. The committee argues that RCV would uphold majority rule and give voters a stronger voice in elections, as well as improve the electoral process as a whole.
According to The Committee for Ranked Choice Voting, the system would function as such:
“On Election Night all the votes are counted for first choice rankings to determine who voters like the best, just like now. If one candidate receives a majority of votes in the first round, they win, just like now. If no candidate receives a majority in the first round, the candidate with the fewest first choice rankings is eliminated. If your favorite candidate is eliminated, your vote is instantly counted for your second choice. This repeats until one candidate reaches a majority (the candidate who is most broadly supported) and wins.”
Portland, Maine’s largest city, has already implemented RCV, and according to a FairVote study, 91% of city voters support it while 71% rated the process as “very easy.”
In other areas where RCV is in use, statistics show that it has been successful and beneficial for the most part. In cities such as San Francisco, which implemented RCV in 2003, one study showed that voters understood the process, and the city has consistently seen the highest voter turnout percentages among California cities.
Maine lawmakers will have an opportunity to ratify the measure before it appears on the 2016 ballot. However, while their decision is anyone’s guess, voters officially have an opportunity to change the way elections are conducted in their state next November.