The city of Portland, in choosing ranked choice, is taking a serious and important step to update our representative democracy. Voters can choose the people they truly prefer, without the fear of voting for a spoiler.
Columnist Halsey Frank, former chairman of the Republican City Committee, questioned the abilities of Portland voters, saying ranked-choice voting is too “difficult,” and claimed it was “absurd” that the voters could “meaningfully” chose from the current candidates. The people of Portland deserve more credit than this.
Maine is an example of why we need ranked-choice voting, not only in Portland, but for the state and nation as well. In Maine’s last six gubernatorial elections, only one clear majority candidate was elected, Gov. Angus King in 1998 with 58.6 percent of the vote. We’ve had back-to back minority governors from both sides of the political spectrum in the last two elections: Gov. John Baldacci’s 38.1 percent win in 2006 and Gov. Paul LePage’s 37.6 percent win in 2010 inspired legions of bumper stickers that claimed “I am part of the majority that didn’t vote for that guy.” Mainers deserve clear majority winners.
Our voting method should encourage a diversity of candidates from different backgrounds and beliefs to run for political office. Elections should be about choosing the best candidates, not locking us into limited choices. Ranked choice allows voters the ability to have a more meaningful way of choosing from fields of candidates, while preserving a government where the will of the majority is represented.