Ranked-choice: Mainers vote for moderation, compromise

By Courier-Gazette Editorial Board | Jun 21, 2018

Somewhat to our surprise, Maine voted to keep the ranked-choice voting system at the polls June 12. We know some opponents of Question 1 have said out-of-state interests bankrolled the measure and bamboozled our residents into supporting it, but we have a higher opinion of Mainers' intelligence than that.

We don't think people were coerced -- or fooled -- into voting to keep a system they all got to experience in the primary. We think they understand that ranked-choice favors moderates over extremists of all stripes, and allows citizens to vote their principles and their bottom-line concerns as well. Vilified by some conservatives as a scheme promoted by the radical left (as if Maine were a hotbed of such radicals!), ranked-choice, by its tendency to advance the candidates with the broadest appeal, actually favors those nearer the center -- the place most people would end up in a compromise.

The Democratic primary for governor is a case in point. While there were several candidates running to her left, Maine Attorney General Janet Mills was the front-runner statewide when this editorial was written, and her nearest challenger was another moderate, Adam Cote. It seems likely at this point that one of them will be the Democratic candidate facing Republican businessman Shawn Moody in November.

So no, ranked-choice won't be a path to radical reform; it probably won't elect the dream candidates of either left or right, though voters will be free to rank such candidates first if they wish. But it will be a path to greater compromise, to seeking common ground, to finding leaders we all can live with, instead of those who seek to appeal to just enough of the electorate to gain office, and, oftentimes, feel beholden only to those who make large donations.

We understand why many on the right don't like such a system: their tactic for years has been to appeal to fear and resentment and to offer extreme policies such as those of the present administration in Washington, D.C. In their minds, moderation is capitulation; compromise is anathema; common ground is cowardice. But when ranked-choice has been the law in Maine for a while, they, too, being pragmatists at heart, may see the value in reaching out to the broad middle, instead of relying on the fringe of their party alone for support.

We're glad Maine decided to continue what is admittedly an experiment with ranked-choice voting. We think it holds the best promise for electing candidates with a broad vision, a desire to serve all the people and a willingness to work with others who have different points of view to craft solutions to our problems that benefit the many, rather than the few.

Yes, it will take some time to find the best way to implement it, and we will have to change the state Constitution to use it in elections for state offices. And no, it will not produce a utopia -- that does not exist, and won't, as long as Earth is peopled with flawed human beings.

But we do believe it will help reduce political polarization and lead to fairer elections with results more truly representative of the people's will. If it does, all Mainers can, and should, be proud.


This day in history

June 21, 1788, New Hampshire, became the ninth, and last necessary state to ratify the U.S. Constitution, thereby making it law. It followed, in order, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Georgia, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland and South Carolina.

Also on this day in 1964, a Ku Klux Klan lynch mob killed three civil rights workers, Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman, and James Chaney, who were working to register black voters in Mississippi. The deaths of Schwerner and Goodman, white Northerners and members of the Congress of Racial Equality, caused a national outrage.

And on June 21, 1990, an earthquake near the Caspian Sea in Iran killed more than 50,000 and injures another 135,000 people in northwestern Iran. The 7.7-magnitude tremor wrecked havoc on the simply constructed houses in the area.

Source: information from History.com.

Comments (1)
Posted by: Shawn Levasseur | Jun 26, 2018 14:31

<blockquote>We don't think people were coerced -- or fooled -- into voting to keep a system they all got to experience in the primary.</blockquote>

Also a system that some voters have experience through municipal elections (Portland's mayoral race is run in this manner)

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