Yes on 5: No More 'Lesser of Two Evils' in Maine

Created: 05 July, 2016
Updated: 17 October, 2022
3 min read

Voters in Maine have a historic opportunity to change the way they elect their leaders by voting “Yes on 5” this November.

You should never have to vote for the “lesser of two evils” when there is another candidate you like better. We need a system that works – where candidates with the best ideas, not the biggest bank accounts have a fighting chance.

Question 5 would empower Maine voters to rank candidates for public office. “Yes on 5” would give Maine voters the freedom to vote for the candidates they like best without worrying that they will help to elect the candidates they like least. This simple reform gives more choice and more voice to voters in our democracy.

Seventy-three thousand Maine citizens signed petitions circulated by volunteers to place Question 5 on the November 2016 ballot. “Yes on 5” is backed by the nonpartisan League of Women Voters of Maine, and broadly supported by Democrats, Republicans, Independents, Greens, and Libertarians alike.

Statewide polling shows strong -- near 60% and growing -- support for Question 5 among likely November voters. That's because Mainers understand our system is broken, and we'll be better off as a state if a majority of voters elect our leaders.

Elections with more than two candidates are common in Maine, and often result in candidates being elected by less than half of voters.

None of Maine’s Democratic, Republican, or Independent governors have been elected to their first terms by a majority since 1966. In fact, less than 40% of voters have picked Maine’s governors in half of all of elections in the last 40 years.

“Yes on 5” would restore majority rule and ensure that candidates who are opposed by a majority of voters could never win.

Mainers will elect a new governor in 2018. Republican Governor Paul LePage is term-limited. The last open race for governor in Maine featured five Democratic candidates, seven  Republican candidates, and three independent candidates. Crowded primaries are expected again in 2018. The general election will feature one or more independent candidates.

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A victory for “Yes on 5” means that Maine’s next governor would be elected to his or her first term by a majority for the first time in more than 50 years, and the voices of Maine people would be heard more loudly and clearly.

Mainers will also vote whether or not to return independent U.S. Senator Angus King to Washington, D.C. for a second term in 2018. Republican Governor LePage is considering challenging King. Regardless of who emerges from the primaries, this general election will likely feature at least three candidates.

Question 5 would ensure that voters get the outcome that they want in Maine’s next U.S. Senate election. And no voter would have to choose between voting for the “lesser of two evils” or feeling like their vote is “wasted.”

These are just two examples. “Yes on 5” will improve elections and democracy in Maine for generations to come.

Maine citizens have a tradition of political independence and civic leadership. They understand their responsibility to vote to make Maine and the United States a better place for their children and grandchildren.

Maine was the first state to adopt clean elections in 1996. It was the first state to vote by referendum in 2015 to restore this law after Citizens United and other court decisions rolled back campaign finance laws. In 2011, Maine voters restored same-day voter registration. It is still one of only 11 states that allows voters to register to vote on Election Day.

Political independents will be watching this race closely over the coming months. Maine could become a model for other states that are considering reforms like ranked choice voting to give voters more voice and more choice in our democracy, especially in states where elections with more than two candidates are common.

To learn more about “Yes on 5," visit the website of the Committee for Ranked Choice Voting at www.rcvmaine.com.

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Promotions for this article are Paid for by The Chamberlain Project, P.O. Box 2122, South Portland, ME 04116


Editor's note: This article was written by Kyle Bailey. Kyle is the Campaign Manager for “Yes on 5,” the ballot initiative to establish ranked choice voting in Maine this November.

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