Informed electorate doesn't need Ranked Choice Voting


I respectfully wish to disagree with Mr. Snow’s assertion in last week’s Lake Region Weekly as to the value of Ranked Choice Voting. While I do agree with him as to the importance of voting in the upcoming elections, I do not believe gimmicks, let alone unconstitutional gimmicks, are the answer. In fact, I believe Ranked Choice Voting actually could benefit someone who was destined for third place, allowing them to hop over a second place candidate. Perhaps that really is the purpose of this change?

In Ranked Choice Voting, the candidate getting the majority does win; if there is no majority winner than the ranked choice system would kick in. In voting you will rank all candidates, but if there is no majority than only some people’s second  ballot choice is recounted. In a sense it destroys the idea of one person-one vote. If we accept some people’s first choice vote and some people’s second choice vote, I believe that does not seem to make sense from a study/data gathering perspective.

This idea violates the Maine Constitution twice. Ranked Choice Voting goes against the Maine Constitution in the plurality requirement (person with most votes wins) and in how the constitution deals with instant runoffs tabulating. Proponents say that Ranked Choice Voting is constitutional, but I hear they already have a plan to change the constitution if it passes, because it will surely cause costly and lengthy lawsuits.

Passing Ranked Choice Voting would make Maine the first state to fully go there. The costs to implement are estimated at $1.5 million dollars; I assume this will buy new machinery to count votes. What will Maine towns do who still use volunteers to count? What is that cost to those towns?

In closing you may remember above I suggested gimmicks were not the answer to Maine election issues, real or perceived election issues. Perhaps I would offer that the answer is simply for people to be involved in our governance, research the various candidates and make sure to vote. A recent article in the Washington Post said Maine was the best state for voter turnout. We can do better, but we are doing well. For these reasons I would suggest you vote no on the issue of Ranked Choice Voting.

Rep. Mike McClellan
Maine House 66

  • Heather Sirocki

    I suggest that everyone read AG Janet Mill’s legal opinion before voting. Imagine this – sitting legislators and supporters asked her to withhold this information until AFTER we vote! Thankfully, she did not heed their request to suppress this important information.

    • blwpyrtv

      Rep. Sirocki, so glad you’re here! Back in March, I read your commentary in the Maine Wire (“Ranked Choice Voting: Wrong for Maine & Blatantly Unconstitutional”;, but the “LEAVE A REPLY” option was malfunctioning. Here, belatedly, is my reply.


      It’s notable that Rep. Sirocki makes no acknowledgment of the reasons why people across the political spectrum are unhappy with plurality voting.

      Anyway, assuming it’s possible via amendment to reconcile RCV with Maine’s constitution, let’s look at Sirocki’s other objections, that RCV would:

      – “lead to costly court challenges”

      That is a common side effect to any kind of progress.

      – “make Maine the only state in the nation to implement RCV”

      And that’s a problem because . . ?

      – “be costly to implement- an estimated $1.5 million for new equipment”

      Sounds like a great investment to me, when you consider the benefits that RCV brings: truer reflection of the majority opinion (and thus clearer mandates), increased competition, campaign civility, voter empowerment, and outcomes based more on merit than on the luck of split opposition (see: Donald Trump).

      – “also include the federal candidates running for U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, as well as Maine Governor, Maine Senate, and Maine Representatives to the House”

      All the better!

      – “involve instant recounts if there are more than two candidates that do not result in a majority vote”

      “Recount” is not quite the right term, as it generally means starting again from scratch. There is, however, a re-tabulation based on the transfer of votes.

      – “be time consuming”

      How does Sirocki figure? She herself describes the re-tabulation scenario as an *instant* runoff.

      – “further disenfranchise voters by using the recounted ballots of the loser to determine the winner”

      Yes, it’s true that the criteria for winner/loser changes under RCV. That is indeed the point. A mere plurality is no longer sufficient for a candidate to claim victory, given that he or she might nonetheless be the worst in the eyes of the majority.

      As for the claim that voters are “disenfranchised” by allowing their votes to transfer to a backup choice, that’s simply nonsense! If anything, voters in a multi-candidate race will finally be able to support their true favorite without fear of wasting their vote.

      – be “a confusing and difficult way of voting”

      As long as it’s explained well, Maine voters should be able to grasp the idea of ranking candidates from favorite to least favorite–just like voters in Ireland, Australia, San Francisco, Minneapolis, and elsewhere already do.

      I encourage all Maine citizens to read up on ranked choice voting (a.k.a., instant runoff voting) between now and November and make up their own minds as to whether it’s wrong for their them or not. They should also take a close look at the political interests of those who are defending the status quo.

  • blwpyrtv

    Circular reasoning. Why should a candidate be “destined for third place” despite being, in the eyes of most voters, preferable to the winner and possibly to the runner-up as well?

  • John E. Palmer

    Thanks, Mr. McClellan. I categorize you as just another party operative trying to preserve the two-party system. Ranked choice voting is no “gimmick.” It’s used far and wide, including by many southern states for the military absentee ballots, several U.S. cities, and more advanced democracies around the world.

    Rather, the “scheme” we should be discussing is our current voting system, which vilifies any third and fourth candidates in a race as spoilers and keeps our democracy in the stone age.

    If people like the two-party stranglehold and the choices it has given them them this November, they should vote no on ranked choice. I think Mainers are smarter than that.