How does ranked choice voting rank?

Published: Oct. 25, 2016 at 5:25 PM EDT
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What if you could rate your candidate choices rather than pick just one?

Michelle Whittaker with Fair Vote said that is just what Ranked Choice Voting would do. She said the system gives voters a greater voice, more choices, and promotes more civil campaigning by politicians.

"Ranked choice voting is something that we’ve seen across the country and around the world and in systems that it provides that majority rule and really ensures that the voice of the people is heard," Whittaker said.

Maine is the first to consider RCV statewide. Organizations like the Committee on Ranked Choice Voting is asking voters to say ‘Yes’ to Question 5 this November 8th.

“You know most Mainers say, 'I do this sort of thing everyday in my life, right? If I go to Dunkin Donuts in the morning, and they’re out of a multigrain bagel, I get a garlic bagel, I know what my second choice is.’ This just gives you the same power to do that with politicians," Kyle Bailey, campaign manager at the Committee for Ranked Choice Voting said.

The committee has been hosting beer elections across Maine to showcase how ranked choice voting works. You have three beers and rank them in order of preference. Let’s say number three comes in last, so they’re out. Those who voted for beer three as their favorite, their second choice then gets divided between beer one or two. Advocates said this ensures every vote matters. But opponents think ranked choice voting could have negative consequences.

Jason McDaniel at San Francisco State University has done three different studies on it.

"My research shows that there will be higher ballot errors because of the more complicated ballots. We should expect lower turnout, higher levels of ballot errors that disqualify peoples votes," McDaniel said.

Jack Santucci of Georgetown University studied its effect on political parties.

"What if independents start winning instead of democrats as a result of ranked choice voting, which is also possible. Probably not as likely as democrats benefiting from it but it's possible. Then the question becomes what they do when they get into office," Santucci said.

But now it’s up to Maine’s voters to decide whether the pros outweigh the cons.

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