Conservative to the Core

Ranked-choice voting a bad choice for Maine

By Tom Seymour | Jun 01, 2018

Liberal, out-of-state sources waged war on Maine’s voting system by funding the campaign to establish ranked-choice voting in the Pine Tree State. And Democrat voters climbed on the bandwagon en masse, voting for this ill-conceived and unconstitutional law change.

The big question regarding ranked-choice voting is “Why?” Was the old system broken?

No, it was not broken and didn’t need fixing. Our system of electing the candidate who wins the plurality of votes has worked well for time out of memory. Voting was easy. Enter the voting booth and vote for one candidate. If that candidate got a plurality, then he or she won the race. If the other candidate received a plurality, then that candidate won. Nothing could be plainer or simpler.

It seems ironic that Democrats vehemently oppose requiring voters to show identification at the polls, something that would deter illegal voting and make the present system even better, and yet they support ranked-choice voting. Ranked-choice voting will only sow confusion and discord at the voting place.

Voter suppression

As an older person, I can recall when Maine practiced a form of voter suppression. It was called the “poll tax,” and every male resident was compelled to pay it before voting. I paid the poll tax the first time I voted, back in 1968.

Fortunately, this discriminatory tax was repealed before the next election rolled around. And with that, we all thought that voter suppression was long gone from Maine. Enter ranked-choice voting.

In this hugely complicated form of voting, citizens vote for their first choice, second choice and so on. Somehow, this is supposed to be a fairer method than we currently use. But it isn’t. In states with ranked-choice voting, spoiled ballots have become the norm. For instance, when Aspen, Colorado, resorted to ranked-choice voting for its mayor’s race in 2009, 168 ballots were declared spoiled, and therefore invalid. Prior to ranked-choice voting, the average number of spoiled ballots was two.

Throughout the country, jurisdictions that have adopted ranked-choice voting have experienced higher-than-normal numbers of spoiled ballots. This was especially prevalent in disadvantaged areas. By interpolating data from Minneapolis and San Francisco, number crunchers estimate that up to 6,500 Maine ballots will be invalidated after the upcoming June election. Is this what Maine really needs? You bet it isn’t.

Even liberal icon, California governor and Democrat Jerry Brown, has come out publicly against ranked-choice voting. Brown said, “In a time when we want to encourage more voter participation, we need to keep voting simple. Ranked-choice voting is overly complicated and confusing. I believe it deprives voters of genuinely informed choice.”

Gov. Brown typically embraces any and all radical, liberal policies. So if he, above all people, feels that ranked-choice voting equals voter suppression, then we here in Maine should pay close attention.

End result

If Maine continues with this dubious experiment, the end result can be no less than a free-for-all election. Many of those unfamiliar with ranked-choice voting will no doubt feel they have wasted their vote. This doesn’t mean these people are stupid, either. Instead, we can liken ranked-choice voting to someone who has used Windows 7 for many years, only to have to re-learn everything they thought they knew when they replace their old computer and buy one with Windows 10.

This happened to me and it wasn’t pleasant. Complicated and not at all user-friendly, Windows 10 bears little resemblance to its predecessors. Likewise, ranked-choice voting has little bearing on how we have voted in past elections.

Consider this. If we sometimes have difficulty in determining a winner in a two-candidate race, how much more difficult will it be to name a winner with multiple candidates, as in ranked-choice voting?

The question comes down to who will be hurt the most. We can take a cue from the Kansas ACLU, which has stated, “Ranked choice ballots have suppressed voter turnout, especially among those segments of the electorate that are already least likely to participate.”

It’s a given that a good percentage of those who are legally entitled to vote will be turned away from the polls because of ranked-choice voting. And those who do vote will probably lose all faith in the system and won’t bother voting in future elections.

Truthfully, I’ve tried to comprehend this “easy” system, but ranked-choice voting makes no sense to me. I am able to do math in my head, something most convenience store clerks can’t do. I have more than a middling knowledge of history and am able to think out-of-the-box for problem-solving. I am the author of 13 books and counting and have taught botany topics at universities. But I am completely flummoxed by ranked-choice voting. And for good measure, let me add to that, Windows 10, since it, too, remains elusive and mysterious.

So if I, a moderately intelligent individual cannot fathom ranked-choice voting, how can others of a similar or even lesser IQ? It doesn’t make sense.

We don’t need ranked-choice voting and don’t know what Democrats hope to gain by pushing for it. It seems that the majority of voters who would become disenfranchised would be those who typically vote Democrat. The poor and disadvantaged, that bloc that Democrats constantly appeal to, will suffer the most.

Despite the Democrat move to tear down our system of voting, I urge everyone to get out and vote. We cannot allow them to keep us away. If we do, then they win.

Tom Seymour is a freelance magazine and newspaper writer, book author, naturalist and forager. He lives in Waldo.

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Comments (2)
Posted by: Karla Schwarze | Jun 06, 2018 13:01

Every voting system has pros and cons, including RCV, but many of the arguments against RCV being given here aren't very logical.  For anyone who just really doesn't like change and doesn't want to learn the new system, the answer is easy - vote for one candidate like you always have.  Just mark your number one candidate on the ballot and carry on.  RCV certainly isn't a poll tax, and it has nothing to do with showing ID at the polls.  It doesn't suppress the vote, in fact it helps every voter make a better choice.   As for the security of the votes, the internet is the last place you want to put them.  According to the DHS, in 2016, Russian hackers were able to access voting systems in some states, and they are still actively doing so.  Paper ballots provide an audit trail to prevent any tampering with the vote during collection and transportation.  Maine has one of the most secure voting systems in the country, and RCV doesn't change that.

One of the biggest benefits of RCV is to give people a more meaningful vote.  Our politics is too complicated now for voters to be satisfied with just picking one candidate and hoping not to get the other.  When RCV is used in a general election, it means the two big parties don't get an automatic lock on the election as they used to.  It gives a bigger voice to Independents (the largest group of voters) who haven't been represented well in the past.

Posted by: Patricia Keyes | Jun 06, 2018 06:53

The worst part of RCV is the lack of openness and accountability in the actual counting of the votes.

"He who counts the votes holds the power" - NOT THE VOTER.

This is why in 1880, it became illegal to use RCV in Maine! Several central Maine towns believed that the votes had been tallied wrong/tampered with, and then transported to Augusta. There was rioting, and then townspeople with guns and cannons lined up around the State House ready to fire on armed men on the roofs.

I am very unhappy that the state is going to use couriers instead of state police officers to transport electronic ballots that can be easily altered or destroyed. Will the couriers carry guns to protect the vote? Why are they transporting votes at all when the internet is instant and just as reliable?

Our town is where we count our votes, with our own townspeople. This is our franchise, our right. To send the votes to Augusta steals our right to first verification that the vote was true.

Other states have tried this and even California has abandoned it. In the year of Romney's presidential bid, in a town in New Hampshire that had less than 500 people, a family of conservatives voted for him, about 30 of them. They knew they voted and they knew who each other had voted for. Their votes were NOT tabulated and their town was reported in the news media reporting town totals as having had zero votes for Romney.  What year was it when NOBODY in the entire ward of Philadelphia voted for a conservative?  How could that possibly be true??

This whole thing stinks.

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