Maine Leads Nation, Moves To Ranked Choice Voting For President

Above A 2018 Ranked Choice Voting Ballot in Maine from the Office of the Maine Secretary of State.

By Howie Hawkins Campaign

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.

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About Kevin Zeese

Kevin Zeese is a public interest attorney who has worked for economic, racial and environmental justice as well as peace since graduating from George Washington Law School in 1980. He co-directs which works to build the independent movement for transformational change. Zeese co-hosts, Clearing the FOG a radio podcast which airs on We Act Radio, Progressive Radio Network, and other outlets.  He is recognized as a leading activist in the United States in the series Americans Who Tell the Truth. Zeese was an organizer of the Occupation of Freedom Plaza in Washington, DC in 2011.  He serves as president of Common Sense for Drug Policy and is a co-founder of the Drug Policy Foundation, now known as Drug Policy Alliance as well as a former director of NORML. He is a co-founder of Health Over Profit for Everyone which seeks to put in place National Improved Medicare for All. Zeese is an advocate of Internet Freedom and is a leader of the campaign for Title II Net Neutrality to ensure equal access and treatment for everyone on the Internet.  Zeese served on the steering committees of the Chelsea Manning Support Network which advocated for the Wikileaks whistleblower and is on the advisory board of the Courage Foundation which supports Edward Snowden, Julian Assange, and other whistleblowers. Zeese is an election integrity advocate who a co-founded TrueVote Maryland which led a successful campaign to end the use of paperless voting machines in the state.  He has been active in independent and third party political campaigns including Peter Camejo for governor of California served as press secretary and spokesperson for Ralph Nader in 2004 and as a senior advisor to Jill Stein in 2016.  He ran for the US Senate in 2006; the only person ever nominated by the Green, Libertarian and Populist Parties of Maryland and the only person ever nominated by the Green and Libertarian Parties for a statewide office. Zeese served as Attorney General in the Green Shadow Cabinet.

7 thoughts on “Maine Leads Nation, Moves To Ranked Choice Voting For President

  1. SocraticGadfly

    Headline is inaccurate. Maine has moved nowhere until gov. either signs bill or lets it become law without signature.

  2. Richard Winger

    Unfortunately, the bill didn’t pass. Even though it passed the Senate and then the House, it needed to go back to the Senate for some obscure procedural reason. And the legislature went home before doing that.

  3. C. Al Currier

    “The legislature has also voted to put in place a primary system for president rather than allow caucuses.” (6th line from top of article)
    I do not like the caucuses.
    I do not like the primary system either.
    With the primaries, how do the Democrats exclude the votes from the Republicans and vice-versa. I assume that in Maine the process of exclusion will come from voters registering specifically as a Democrat or Republican. Many voters do not affiliate with parties or want to pledge allegiance to political groups.
    I used to think that caucuses were good. I attended one Republican caucus in 2008 (Ron Paul). Absolutely absurd procedures go on at the caucuses. There is no rhyme or reason to them. We split into small groups with instructions to discuss the candidates and come up with a ‘consensus’ ( similar to ranked choice like RCV ) I was in a group of three (including myself). –One Mitt Romney supporter and one John McCain supporter. The other two did not know much about their candidates so I had to elaborate on the pros and cons of my candidate (Ron Paul) along with the pros and cons of Mitt Romney and John McCain. Their political views were basically ANYONE but Ron Paul. We couldn’t come to any agreement or ‘consensus’. We took the problem to the staff and were instructed to ‘flip a coin’ to settle the dispute. (I won the coin-flip). I kinda-like suspect that the Romney and McCain ‘supporters’ were merely paid-servants of the respective campaigns.
    Caucuses are designed to prevent ‘transparency’. What goes on is hidden from the public. The flipping of coins is not an appropriate way to choose candidates.

  4. C. Al Currier

    On April 13, 2017, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court heard oral arguments regarding the initiative’s constitutionality. On May 23, 2017, the court issued a unanimous advisory opinion finding that the law violated the state constitution:
    “ According to the terms of the Constitution, a candidate who receives a plurality of the votes would be declared the winner in that election. The Act (the ranked-choice system), in contrast, would not declare the plurality candidate the winner of the election, but would require continued tabulation until a majority is achieved or all votes are exhausted.
    Accordingly, the Act is not simply another method of carrying out the Constitution’s requirement of a plurality. In essence, the Act is inapplicable if there are only two candidates, and it is in direct conflict with the Constitution if there are more than two candidates.

    This bill has yet to go to the governor or the Maine Supreme Court.
    The opponents of this bill have many resources to prevent it from being implemented.

  5. paulie

    On June 20, Maine Governor Janet Mills signed LD 1626, which sets up presidential primaries in Maine. They do not involve ranked choice voting. The primary is voluntary and parties must decide whether to use them. Parties also must decide whether or not to let independents vote in their presidential primaries.

    On the afternoon of June 19, the Maine House passed LD 1083, which had been passed by the Senate earlier in the day. It provides for ranked choice voting for president, in primaries and also in the general election. But, the Senate then failed to pass the bill again, so it died. The legislature then adjourned. This revises the post made yesterday.

  6. Be Rational

    Allocating the second choice votes of only the last place finisher is a very biased system. The fair way would be to allocate all the second choice votes of all the voters in the second round, adding them all to the first round totals.

    Only allocating the second choices of the last place finisher gives those voters two chances to vote while everyone else only gets one. It violates the principle of one man, one vote.

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