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Behind the News May 17, 2018

Ranked-choice voting advocate: 'Send a message to Augusta'

Rockland — People have an opportunity to stand up to the politicians in Augusta June 12 by voting yes on ranked-choice voting, said Kyle Bailey, campaign manager for the Committee For Ranked-Choice Voting.

Bailey said ranked-choice voting was one of four citizen initiatives the voters supported in November 2016, and the Maine Legislature has repealed or altered all four. Supporters of ranked-choice voting managed in 90 days during the winter to gather the 80,000 signatures needed to put a "people's veto" of this action on the June ballot.

He sees this vote as a chance not only to support this voting method, but to send a message to Augusta and give the people the power.

With ranked-choice, voters rank candidates in order of preference, including second- and third- and even fourth-choice candidates. If no one candidate receives more than 50 percent of the votes after the first count, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated. Voters who chose the eliminated candidate would have their ballots added to the totals of their second-choice candidates. The process continues until one candidate has a clear majority and is declared the winner, according to the Portland Press Herald.

Bailey said that in recent elections for governor in Maine, five of the governors were elected with less than 40 percent of the vote.

When there are third-party candidates under the present system, voting for your first choice of the third-party candidate could help elect your last choice. Supporters of ranked-choice argue that the change would eliminate this so no one felt they were choosing the lesser of two evils or wasting their vote.

Bailey also argued this would also push politicians not only to court the support of their base, but of a larger majority of the voters, hoping to get, if not first choice, second choice on the ballot.

Maine's highest court advised at one point that the Maine Constitution does not allow this system of voting for some races -- the governor's race, state representative and senator. Bailey said that for now, the supporters of this change have achieved about 70 percent of their goal in having the system in place for other races. Ultimately, supporters hope to win support for a constitutional amendment to allow its use in all races.

For more information, watch the full video interview or visit rcvmaine.com, which has videos and other information.

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