Tired of ranked-choice voting (RCV) rigging their state’s elections, Maine Republicans have introduced legislation to return the state to a traditional electoral system.
LD 1038, also known as “An Act to Reinstate Plurality Voting by Repealing the Ranked-choice Voting Laws,” stipulates that “the person who receives a plurality of the votes cast for election to any office, as long as there is at least one vote cast for that office, is elected to that office.” The bill also includes the same provisions for primary elections.
“There are increasing complaints from constituents that the ranked-choice experiment has failed to deliver on its promises,” said bill sponsor and GOP Rep. Ed Polewarczyk. “It produces false majorities, frequently exhausts thousands of ballots cast on Election Day, is confusing, and disenfranchises voters who are already unlikely to vote. It is time to return to a simpler, easy-to-understand system where the candidate with the most votes wins.”
Under RCV, voters rank candidates in order of preference. If no candidate receives a majority of first-choice votes in the first round of voting, the last-place finisher is eliminated, and his votes are reallocated to the voter’s second-choice candidate. This process continues until one candidate receives a majority of votes.
During the 2016 election, Maine voters approved the “Maine Ranked Choice Voting” ballot initiative by nearly 32,000 votes (52.1 to 47.9 percent). While the law was originally set to go into effect on Jan. 1, 2018, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court found in May 2017 that the use of RCV for state-level elections violated the Maine Constitution. To rectify the issue, the state legislature “approved a bill to delay implementation until December 2021 and repeal [the initiative] unless a constitutional amendment addressing concerns over the legality of ranked choice voting is passed.”
Supporters of the initiative, however, “collected and submitted enough signatures for a veto referendum targeting the repeal of the legislation to delay ranked-choice voting.” Mainers ultimately authorized the use of RCV during a June 2018 referendum vote.
As The Federalist’s Victoria Marshall reported, RCV tends to boost leftist candidates and often leads to confusing and even inaccurate election outcomes. In an Oakland school board race, for instance, “election officials announced — two months after the fact — that they got the count wrong,” with the “rightful winner … now suing for his seat.” Some studies have even suggested RCV disenfranchises segments of voters that left-wing election groups often classify as marginalized, such as racial minorities and non-English speakers.
Since the implementation of RCV in Maine, residents have witnessed firsthand how the system produces outcomes that contradict the desires of voters. During the 2018 midterms, then-incumbent GOP Rep. Bruce Poliquin lost to Democrat Jared Golden, despite Poliquin winning the most votes in the first round of voting. That outcome was due to the state’s ranked-choice voting system.
While Polewarczyk’s bill to repeal RCV in Maine is welcome, it’s likely to face pushback from the state’s Democrat-controlled legislature. According to The Maine Wire, a local news outlet, RCV has “largely been a left-wing political priority” in Maine, with supporters arguing “that it prevents the ‘spoiler effect’ often seen in traditional plurality voting systems.”
Democrat activists have pointed to the 2010 election and 2014 reelection of former GOP Gov. Paul LePage as examples. During those respective contests, an independent candidate ran in the general election, which RCV-supporting leftists claim “unfairly” skewed the outcomes.
LD 1038 will receive a public hearing on Wednesday, according to The Maine Wire.