Very interesting solution: Maine’s “Instant Runoff” Proposal Could Banish Its Governor From State Politics
Zaid Jilani reports in The Intercept:
Maine’s colorful governor, Republican Paul LePage, has once again grabbed headlines — this time for leaving a profanity-laced voicemail for an opposition lawmaker and then declaring that the “overwhelming majority” of Maine’s “enemy” are “people of color.”
LePage’s antics have left many people outside Maine wondering how the bland, sensible state ever elected him. The answer’s straightforward: LePage has never needed a majority of Maine’s votes to win. Maine has a standard first-past-the-post voting system plus a strong tradition of third parties and politicians running as independents. With multiple candidates running against LePage during his two races for governor, he was able to squeak into office both times with just a plurality of votes.
In 2010, LePage was elected with just 37.6 percent of the vote. In 2014, he received 48.2 percent of the vote. In each election, a combination of independent and Democratic Party candidates received the majority of the votes.
But everything about Maine politics may change this November. Partly in reaction to LePage’s victories, activists have put Question 5 on the ballot, an initiative that would create what is called a “ranked choice” or “instant runoff” voting system for all state-level races. If Maine votes yes on Question 5, it would mean that no one could be elected to state-level office in Maine — meaning governor, U.S. senator and representative, and state senator and representative — without the support of a majority of voters.
Here’s how the ranked choice system works:
- Voters do not choose just one candidate for each office. Instead, they rank everyone running, from their top preference to their lowest.
- If a candidate gets a majority of first-choice votes, he or she wins.
- If no one receives a majority of first-choice votes, the candidate who received the fewest first-choice votes is removed from the contest. Then all of that candidate’s second-choice votes are distributed among candidates remaining in the process.
- If one of the remaining candidates get a majority of votes, he or she wins. If not, the candidate with the fewest votes is again eliminated, and the process continues until someone does have a majority.
In 2014, the city of Minneapolis used this system. Watch the video below, put together by Minneapolis Public Radio, explaining how it works:
One of the main attractions of ranked choice voting is . . .
I think using “colorful” as the adjective for Gov. LePage is extremely tactful. Other adjectives come immediately to mind.