On Election Night, Maine’s largest city popularly elected a mayor for the first time in eight decades. But who that person is won’t be publicly-known until later tonight, a day after the polls closed. Josie Huang has more. The city used a time-intensive electoral process called ranked-choice voting that’s has never been tried in Maine until now. Also known as instant run-off, it’s used in the U.S. by a dozen or so cities, such as San Francisco and Minneapolis.
Ranked choice voting is supposed to produce a winner that most voters can get behind, even if the candidate wasn’t their top choice. It works like this: Voters rank their favorite candidates, and the winner is whoever gets at least 50 percent of first-place votes. That was extremely unlikely to happen in Portland, where a staggering 15 candidates vied to be mayor.
“If no candidate has a majority of first-place votes, then the candidate with the least amount of votes is dropped from the race and the voters that voted for that candidate have their second choices tabulated,” says Dorothy Scheeline, who is observing the Portland mayoral race for D.C.-based FairVote, which advocates ranked-choice voting. “The second-place vote counts as a first-place vote once your first-place is dropped from the race,” she explans. “And you just keep doing that process until somebody has 50 percent plus 1 of the votes.”
So even though the front-runner–former state Sen. Michael Brennan–got the most first-place votes at 27 percent, and closed out Election Night with jubilant supporters at a local bar, he knew the race was not over. “I’m cautiously optimistic at this point because we go to the next phase where they’ll start to count the No. 2 votes,” Brennan said.
That phase began around 10 a.m. in Portland City Hall, where TrueBallot, the company hired by the city for $22,000 to tabulate the results, was scanning about 19,600 ballots for computer analysis
Full Article: Portland Still Counting Ballots in Mayoral Race.