A group that hopes to ask voters statewide to change the way Maine votes in 2016 will begin its campaign in earnest later this month. Ranked Choice Voting Maine wants Maine to become the first state in the U.S. to fully use a ranked-choice ballot system for its elections and has gathered the more than 61,123 signatures from registered voters needed to add a ballot question to next November’s election. Former state Sen. Dick Woodbury, a Yarmouth independent and a spokesman for the group, said they expect to turn their signatures into Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap on Oct. 19. Woodbury says the signature-gathering drive started in October 2014 and has collected more than 70,000 signatures. He said the group collected more than 40,000 signatures on Election Day 2014.
Ranked-choice voting would allow voters to rank candidates in multi-candidate races in order of preference, creating a so-called “instant runoff” for when no single candidate gets more than 50 percent of the total vote.
The system, according to Woodbury, ensures that the candidate with the largest number of votes would be elected. Woodbury and other supporters of the change note that nine of the past 11 gubernatorial races in Maine have been won by a candidate who received less than 50 percent of the vote.