Secretary of State Shenna Bellows looks towards a monitor and camera as she speaks to the public during a Facebook Live feed that was part of ranked choice tabulations at a state office building in Augusta, on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2022. Credit: Rich Abrahamson / The Central Maine Morning Sentinel via AP

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Ranked-choice voting (RCV, aka instant runoff voting) and other runoff voting systems are      non-partisan and improve democracy by ensuring that winners better reflect the true will of the voters. Plurality voting in multi-candidate races invites the problem of vote splitting and the spoiler effect which can result in “winners” who do not get a majority and do not reflect the true will of the majority.  

In 2007, five Republicans and five Democrats in Maine introduced a bill to have RCV in Maine ( LD 585). In the 2020 Maine primaries, when RCV was used in the multi-candidate Republican elections, there were no major problems with the process or the results.

The Maine Republican Party uses a multi-round runoff voting system to elect its officers. The Virginia Republican Party uses RCV for some of its primary elections. In some relatively recent mayoral elections in Lewiston, Republicans won because of the runoff voting system used there. Runoff voting is common, longstanding, and works.

Negative myths about RCV have been debunked time and again. It is not confusing. Many studies and reports show most people have no problem doing it. The ballots are clear and easy.  And it has definitely not created “chaos” as predicted by some people.

Mainers have twice voted statewide in favor of RCV. We have used it now several times with no major problems. No voting system is perfect. But runoff voting systems like RCV do make for better democracy, and that is a positive.

Ron Bilancia