Two legislators have joined forces to support a single bill to establish ranked-choice voting in Maine. The election-law bill submitted by Sen. Dick Woodbury, U-Yarmouth, is now co-sponsored by Rep. Janice Cooper, D-Yarmouth, who submitted similar draft legislation at the beginning of the year. Woodbury said the bill has generated notable public interest. “I think the fact that the next govorner’s race is shaping up to have Eliot Cutler as a prominent independent is increasing people’s interest in making sure there is some kind of narrowing down of the system, so that the ultimate winner of that race has the majority support of the people,” he said.
Under the bill, candidates running for statewide offices would be ranked by voters on Election Day, similar to Portland’s mayoral elections, where voters enacted a ranked-choice system in 2011.
Ranked-choice voting asks voters to rank candidates according to their preference: first, second, third, etc., until they no longer have a preference or all candidates have been given a ranking.
If on Election Day no candidate receives a majority of votes, an instant runoff election occurs. Candidates with the fewest first-choice votes are eliminated, with their votes redistributed among the remaining candidates. Successive rounds continue until a candidate receives a majority.