In 2016, Maine voters in a referendum chose to institute preferential (also called ranked choice) voting in their state for all elections, something that I have long advocated as the most democratic way of voting. Naturally the two main party establishments dislike the idea because it lessens their control over who should be the party nominee for general elections and also because it enables third party candidates to show their true strength since their supporters need no longer fear that their vote will be ‘wasted’ by going to a candidate who was unlikely to win.
The system in Maine, called ‘ranked choice voting’, works like this:
If there are three or more candidates in a contest, voters rank them in order of preference. If no candidate wins an outright majority, the politician with the fewest first-place votes is eliminated. The second-place votes of the people who supported the eliminated candidate are distributed to those who remain in the race. The process continues until a candidate wins more than 50 percent of the vote.
Back in May I wrote about how the party establishments decided to try and roll back that referendum result by having the legislature pass a law that effectively nullified the referendum results. In response, supporters of ranked-choice voting put another measure on the ballot in Tuesday’s primary election that would repeal that law. I am glad to report that it looks like supporters of preferential voting system won with 54% of the vote. A few of the other races did not have a single person with a majority and so the ranked-choice voting will be use to determine the winners there too.
The outgoing governor of the state Paul Le Page, a truly terrible person who personally benefitted from the old system because it enabled him to win without gaining a majority, bitterly opposes this system and is childishly saying that he will refuse to certify the results, a gesture that is unlikely to have any effect on the outcome.
Although it affects a relatively small state, this is a major step forward in improving the appalling election system that the US currently has.