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This week, the Maine House joined the Maine Senate and passed a bill to expand Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) to presidential elections. Democratic Governor Janet Mills has 10 days to sign, veto, or allow the proposals to become law without her signature.
RCV will be used in the primary and general elections for president. The legislature has also voted to put in place a primary system for president rather than allow caucuses.
This builds on Maine becoming the first state to enact RCV for statewide elections when voters approved Question 5 on November 8, 2016. This was the second time Maine voters voted in support of RCV. Maine successfully used RCV in its elections for governor, the state legislature, and Congress in 2018. RCV has now been approved for use in municipal or state elections in 18 states.
RCV, which is also known as instant-runoff voting, allows voters to vote for their preferred candidate and rank the others in order of preference. If no candidate wins a majority, election officials eliminate the last-place finisher and redistribute that candidate’s votes based on voters’ second-ranked choice. This process continues – with last-place candidates being eliminated and their votes reallocated – until one candidate breaks the threshold of 50 percent. RCV ensures that the person elected has majority voter support.
“Maine continues to lead the nation in enacting RCV, which allows voters to vote for the candidate they like without fear of helping the candidate they fear,” said Howie Hawkins, a Green candidate for president. “Without RCV, voters are often afraid to vote for what they want as the logic of lesser-evil voting takes over, and people often vote against the candidate they fear most instead of for the candidate they prefer most. RCV allows people to vote their hopes, not their fears.”
Hawkins has made democracy reform one of the focus points of his election. He supports RCV voting in a national popular vote for president in place of the Electoral College. He supports proportional representation in elections to Congress and public funding of public elections. He opposes restrictive ballot access laws and all other forms of voter suppression. Hawkins believes in grassroots democracy and wants to empower communities to hold citizen assemblies, like New England Town Meetings, where every citizen has legislative power in the public affairs of their town or neighborhood and the right to pass resolutions instructing their elected representatives to higher levels of government.