Before the final vote tabulations were made, a Southern California man emailed the Bangor Daily News with a prediction about the Portland mayoral race from afar. Terry Reilly, an outspoken nationwide critic of Portland’s newly implemented ranked choice voting system, predicted the winner would end up with about 8,000 votes from the nearly 20,000 ballots cast in the mayoral race. Less than a majority.
The use of ranked choice voting is under fire in Reilly’s state, specifically in San Francisco, with an opposition group working to put a repeal question before voters as early as next year. There, voter turnout waned and campaigning reportedly turned negative this fall. Opponents say ranked choice voting hasn’t delivered on what its supporters promised when it was installed about seven years ago.
In Portland, by comparison, mayoral candidates and city officials largely considered the city’s first experience with the program a success. But City Councilor Nicholas Mavodones — the previous mayor who came in third behind Michael Brennan and Ethan Strimling — said residents should prepare to think hard about whether they want to use ranked choice voting again in four years, when Brennan’s term is up.
“I was not wild about it when the charter commission proposed it and I’m still not wild about it,” Mavodones said. “I think the community should have a discussion about whether ranked choice voting is something we should stick with.”
Reilly’s email arrived in the early morning hours of Nov. 9, before a day and a half of ballot scanning, computer processing, scan reviewing and eventually vote counting determined that Brennan bested a field of 14 other candidates to become the first publicly elected mayor since 1923.
Brennan also had finished Election Day with the most first-place votes, but would have only won with a plurality with just more than 27 percent of the tallies.