Westbrook voters approved a referendum Tuesday to use ranked-choice voting in future elections for mayor, School Committee and City Council.
The referendum amending the city’s charter passed with 63 percent of voters in favor compared with 37 percent against, according to unofficial results. It comes two years after Westbrook saw a four-way mayoral race where the winner, current Mayor Michael Foley, won with only 31 percent of the vote, less than 3 percentage points ahead of his closest opponent.
Proponents of the referendum said it would lead to better representation in local government, while opponents brought up concerns about voter confusion and argued people may not be familiar enough with municipal candidates to feel comfortable ranking several of them.
Westbrook is the second Maine city to approve the use of ranked-choice voting for local elections, neighboring Portland, which has used ranked-choice voting for mayoral races since 2011 and extended it to other offices last year. About two dozen other cities across the U.S. also use it, according to FairVote, an organization that advocates for ranked-choice voting.
Maine voters narrowly approved a referendum in 2016 to use ranked-choice voting at the state level, although it has only been used in congressional — not legislative or gubernatorial — elections after the state’s high court issued an advisory opinion suggesting the voting method may conflict with the Maine Constitution. Westbrook backed that referendum, with 59 percent of residents voting in favor.