The aftermath of ranked-choice voting

Published: Jun. 13, 2018 at 6:15 PM EDT
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Tuesday, Maine became the first state in the nation to use ranked-choice voting in a statewide primary election.

Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap says, "There are no cars burning in the street. The National Guard hasn't been called out. It actually went pretty smoothly. We really got very few, if any, complaints about the grid-style ballot for ranked-choice voting."

As towns across the state report their results it looks as if we will get to see ranked-choice tabulation in action.

Dunlap says, "We're in the eyes of the country. This has never been done at this scale. We'll see how it goes over the next few days as towns get their materials ready for us to pick up and we'll start processing it. I think people will certainly have reason to trust the result when we are done."

Questions have been raised about the length of time it takes to get official results and about the cost of the system.

The Secretary of State's office says it cost an additional $80,000 to implement RCV in this primary election.

Dunlap says, "The cost is higher and if the numbers hold for the question one decision and we're going to be using this in November for the congressional races, going forward we are going to need additional support if this is going to work and work to its fullest iteration."

Mainers approved referendum question one keeping RCV in place, meaning it could become standard practice in the state.

Dunlap says, "This system was not possible 10 years ago but the technology is marching so quickly and getting so more compact so much faster. I think it's only a matter of time before you see this as a process that's much smoother, much quicker."

RCV constitutionally can't be used in all elections but that could be changed through work of the legislature.

Dunlap says, "I think that's a conversation that the legislature is probably going to want to contemplate having. Amending the constitution is quite a hurdle but it's been done about 200 times. Again, given the experience of ranked-choice voting, making sure that people get to have their choices made and their voices heard, that's really the goal."