State’s animated video offers primer on ranked-choice voting in closely watched elections

By Kevin Miller, Portland Press Herald | May 15, 2018
Video by: Maine Secretary of State

Secretary of State Matt Dunlap’s office released an informational video on ranked-choice voting Monday, roughly one month before Maine becomes the first state to use the tabulation process during a statewide election.

In the five-minute-long animated video, Dunlap walks viewers through the process of selecting candidates in the voting booth on June 12 and how votes will be tabulated using the ranked-choice system.


The secretary of state’s office also has posted sample ballots, frequently asked questions, final rules for the voting tabulation process and an “RCV Fact Sheet” to help voters.

“These are the final components of our ranked-choice voting resources web page, which we are providing so that voters can educate themselves about this new process before going to the polls or marking their absentee ballots,” Dunlap said in a statement. “I also look forward to meeting with voters to discuss this information with them during my visits this month.”

Maine voters will use the ranked-choice system to vote in four elections on June 12, although the Maine Republican Party has filed a court challenge to block the system’s use in the upcoming Republican primaries.

The four upcoming elections due to use the ranked-choice format are: the Democratic and Republican primaries for governor, the Democratic primary for Maine’s 2nd District and the Republican primary for House District 75 in Turner. At the same time, Mainers will be voting whether to keep ranked-choice voting in place for future elections.

The state’s use of ranked-choice voting is expected to draw national attention.

Under Maine’s traditional voting system, the candidate who gets the highest vote total is declared the winner, even if that is less than 50 percent in a race with three or more contestants.

In the ranked-choice system, voters rank candidates in order of preference. If no one has won more than 50 percent of the vote 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-ranked candidates, and the ballots would be retabulated. The process continues until two candidates are remaining, with the one with the majority of votes being declared the winner.

In the video released Monday, Dunlap made clear that voters can skip the ranked-choice system altogether by voting only for a single candidate in those races – a tactic some Republican leaders are pushing because they oppose the voting tabulation system. That person’s vote would only count in the first round of tabulation, however.

With seven Democrats and four Republicans running for their party’s respective gubernatorial nomination, those races are widely expected to trigger a ranked-choice calculation. That means the results will not be known on the evening of June 12 or potentially for days afterward because all paper ballots and electronic memory drives with voting results must be transported by courier to Augusta for tabulation.

“Determining the winner of each election will take awhile given the size of the great state of Maine,” Dunlap said in the video. “But we’ll report the unofficial results as soon as they are ready so you’ll know who has been chosen for each elected office.”

Dunlap is also holding five “outreach events” around the state and online this month on ranked-choice voting. The first was held Monday at McArthur Public Library in Biddeford. The schedule for the other events follows:

• Bangor: Tuesday, May 15, 4-6 p.m. at Bangor Public Library, 145 Harlow St.

• Presque Isle: Monday, May 21, 4-6 p.m. at Mark & Emily Turner Memorial Public Library, 39 2nd St.

• Lewiston: Tuesday, May 29, 4-6 p.m. at Lewiston Public Library, 200 Lisbon St.

• Online via Facebook LIVE on Thursday, May 24, at 6 p.m. on the Secretary of State’s Facebook page,


Comments (1)
Posted by: Patricia Keyes | May 18, 2018 11:20

The Republican Party of the State of Maine is NOT a government agency. It is a private and loose association of conservative minded people who have created their own rules for administration of their group decisions. This organization is their hobby money after their wages have been taxed at least 50% in some way or other by all the levels of government in our towns, counties, states and by the IRS. It is not for the Secretary of State, nor the voters to decide how their primary candidates are chosen. It is up to the Party, as enshrined in their by-laws, to make those choices. The State's only involvement is to demand that the Party actually conduct their business by their own rules.

Millions in out-of-state PAC dollars were funneled into Maine in 2016 to put RCV/Rec MJ/Min Wage/3% Tax Increase on the ballot through the Maine Peoples Alliance. None of these bills were initiated by Maine people. They were shoved on us by O-O-S interests, and foolish people on the street signed petitions circulated by paid employees, not Mainers who felt the need to improve their state by volunteering. Very few of the petition signatures came from the north end of the state either.

I would never think of having to add an article to Party By-Laws that said "no purple polka dot pants allowed". We like all colors of pants and/or we don't care at all what color you wear. I can't think of a reason why that would ever need to be written down or addressed in a party's by-laws. RCV is in the same category! Seeing as it is specifically prohibited by our State Constitution, having to state how to decide a vote was never something imagined by the Maine Republican Party. There was no other universe in which we could imagine such a thing needed to be explained.

Republican primaries are decided by a PLURALITY of the vote. This means that the person with the most votes wins. They may not achieve an MAJORITY in a multi-candidate race, which means more than 50%. But they win with more votes than anyone else they run against.

RCV wants to create a feeling of majority rule. It's proponents want an emotional atmosphere of brotherly love and unity to prevail, but just because something sounds good, doesn't mean it is good. This is what democracy is. It is the mob against the minority. It is the popular (often wrong) will of the people which can be manipulated by biased reporting and appeals to emotion over logic and history. This is NOT how a REPUBLIC works.

The United States of America is a REPUBLIC. This means that we have laws that cannot be revoked by mob mentality. The right to be alive, to walk around freely, and to pursue whatever each individual thinks makes them happy without harming their neighbor are NOT UP FOR DISCUSSION. You may argue about the color of the carpeting in the State House, but you may not use the state govt to murder people indiscriminately or confiscate their stuff without a long process of amending the Constitution, and subjecting the ideas to the scrutiny of elected representatives, at which point we hope cooler heads would prevail. The slow tedious process of Republican govt is to stall or starve bad ideas to death.

The Maine Republican Party has added an article to their state by-laws that states clearly that in their primaries, the winner is chosen by plurality. No fuss. No confusion at the municipal level. No expensive fancy voting machines needed (that aren't affordable for most towns nor available nationwide in time for our primaries).

Did you know our town clerks are being bullied into silence right now when they ask how the votes are supposed to be tallied and handled? Did you know that there aren't enough State Troopers to transport the ballots to an as yet unknown location to allow unknown State employees count them? THERE IS NO PROCESS! THERE IS NO DIRECTION. Do you want your town votes to be counted in Augusta? Do you trust a private courier service to transport the ballots securely???

The Maine Republican Party has filed a lawsuit with the State to put the illegality of RCV to the test. Urge your House Reps and Senators to push for the swift review of this suit in our State Supreme Court. Especially if you're a Democrat. While the Republicans will be finding out who their candidates for the fall elections will be on the evening of the June Primaries, Democrats may wait for months while candidates battle for recounts and accuse each other of foul play.

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