Maine voters appear ready to change the way they elect public officials for statewide and federal offices, according to new surveys. Polling suggests that the more voters know about Question 5, the ballot initiative to implement ranked choice voting, the more likely they are to vote for it.
Ranked Choice Voting is a system of voting in which the voter has the freedom to rank their candidates in order of preference rather than being confined by checking a single box. According to the Committee for Ranked Choice Voting:
“If one candidate receives an outright majority, he or she wins. If no candidate receives a majority, the candidate with the fewest first choices is eliminated and voters who liked that candidate the best have their ballots instantly counted for their second choice. This process repeats and last-place candidates lose until one candidate reaches a majority and wins.”This process considers a range of preferred options rather than a single definitive selection.
According to the latest Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram poll, 48 percent of respondents support ranked choice voting in Maine. The poll shows that nearly a quarter of voters are still undecided on the measure and 29 percent are likely to vote against it.
This is good news for proponents of the initiative, and suggests that the measure has a strong chance of passing in November.
Further, while PPH/MST poll suggests that a sizable percentage of the population still is unsure of the proposal, internal polling from RCV Maine suggests that the more voters know about ranked choice voting, the more likely they are to support it.
The results of the internal survey, originally published by Bangor Daily News, shows that if the election were held today, 49 percent of respondents would vote for the measure. When they learned more about the initiative, the number jumped to 55 percent.
Overall, support for the idea of the reform is as high as 60 percent, according to the same survey.
Additionally, the survey found that 72 percent of respondents believe Maine needs major political reform, 89 percent said the state government isn't working and changes need to be made to how the system works, and 86 percent are concerned about partisanship in Augusta.
Question 5 qualified for the 2016 ballot in November 2015 after RCV Maine submitted over 70,000 signatures to put it on the ballot. If approved by voters, Maine would be the first state to adopt ranked choice voting for all statewide races.
Editor's note: This article was written with the assistance of IVN intern Courtney Pittam.