I do not share Edgar Beem’s low opinion of ranked-choice voting (“Primary post-mortem: Trouble ahead”). It is not a cure-all, but it allows popular minority candidates a better hearing, and, by offering candidates a chance to enlarge their voter base, it encourages them to reflect a broader spectrum of the electorate in their policies.
A candidate elected by a minority may sometimes choose to more exclusively represent that minority. The election of Paul LePage by a plurality in 2010, when RCV would surely have favored the more representative Eliot Cutler, is a history seared into the memory of Maine voters as an argument for RCV, but Beem ignores it.
His claim that the recent RCV primary had a negligible effect on negative campaigning and didn’t increase public confidence in the prospects of the winners is debatable. His view that RCV will not “save us from another Paul LePage,” while correct, is irrelevant partisan fuming; RCV purposely favors whatever political complexion is most representative of the voting public.
Depending on an election’s place in time and its candidates, an election using RCV could benefit a Republican, an independent, or a Democrat. If an election using RCV confirms Beem’s worry that voters in Maine will show “a preference for dummies,” that’s not the fault of RCV. It’s the state of our democracy.
What delays a speedy statewide counting of votes under RCV – a delay which Beem grouses about and blames on RCV – is the Legislature’s failure to appropriate the $883,000 for new voting machines.