The only congressional races to use ranked choice voting are those in Maine and the first time it was used was in last month’s elections and it produced a result in the second Congressional district that illustrated how it works. When the first choice votes were counted, the Republican candidate Bruce Poliquin came in first and the Democrat Jared Golden came second but none of the four candidates got the required 50%+1 votes. So the second choices of those voted for the candidates who came in third and fourth were then tabulated and Golden emerged the winner.
So naturally Poliquin sued in federal court, saying that the ranked-choice voting system was unconstitutional and that the plurality system should have prevailed. He must have been encouraged by the fact that the case would be heard by a Trump-appointed judge Lance Walker. But today, the judge threw out his challenge.
The judge said he failed to see how Maine’s candidate-ranking system undercut voters’ First Amendment rights “in any fashion.” He said the system was “motivated by a desire to enable third-party and non-party candidates to participate in the political process, and to enable their supporters to express support, without producing the spoiler effect.”
The new method of voting “actually encourages First Amendment expression, without discriminating against any voter based on viewpoint, faction or other invalid criteria,” said Walker, a judge with U.S. District Court in Bangor.
Maine only uses this method for primaries and federal elections because the state constitution apparently requires only a plurality to win. Poliquin may well appeal the verdict bit it is hard to see him winning since the US constitution is silent on this issue.
I hope more states adopt the ranked-choice method. It provides a much better gauge of voter preferences than the plurality method.