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Maine prepares to use ranked-choice voting in the presidential election

This means voters can rank all of those candidates on the ballot or none at all.
Published: Sep. 24, 2020 at 5:52 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Maine (WABI) - On November 3rd Maine will become the first state to use ranked choice voting for a presidential election.

“Sort of the pay off for me as an elections official has been people telling me, like in the grocery store, I really like being able to vote for somebody that I can get behind without electing somebody that I can’t stand, and that’s really what the intention was, the very vision of ranked choice voting," said Secretary of State Matt Dunlap.

This means voters can rank all of those candidates on the ballot or none at all.

“Top question we get is do I have to rank or can I just vote for one candidate. The answer is yeah, you can just vote for one candidate, you don’t have to rank - the voter always controls their ballot," Dunlap said."

Supporters of ranked choice voting say it eliminates “spoiler candidates” to produce a majority winner.

While those in opposition don’t like the complexity of the process.

“A four-way race that, let’s just say for the sake of the argument is relatively close, somebody gets 28% somebody gets 26% somebody gets 24% and somebody gets 23%,” Dunlap said. "In the first round the person with 23% is eliminated and the second choices of those voters are redistributed among the other three and you just keep doing that until somebody gets to 50% plus one.

The Maine Supreme Court gave the green light this week to ranked choice voting in this election.

But Republicans are asking for a hold on the decision so they can possibly take the matter to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Matt Dunlap says it remains to be seen how ranked choice voting will impact Maine’s four electoral votes, which can be split among candidates.

No matter the outcome, Maine will make history this year as a role model to other states interested in the process.

“It’s a big change in how you conduct an election," Dunlap said. "I know there are efforts to put it in place in Alaska and Massachusetts, we’ve had some folks reach out to us from Alaska about the methodology that we use.”

For more information on ranked-choice voting, you can watch an explainer video and read about it here.

Copyright 2020 WABI. All rights reserved.

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