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Question 5 Approval Makes Maine First State with Ranked Voting

With the passage of Question 5, Maine will be the first state to hold ranked-choice elections, but Gov. LePage now wants to change the way questions get onto the ballot. (Responsible Mainers/Facebook)
With the passage of Question 5, Maine will be the first state to hold ranked-choice elections, but Gov. LePage now wants to change the way questions get onto the ballot. (Responsible Mainers/Facebook)
November 21, 2016

AUGUSTA, Maine – Gov. Paul LePage opposed all of the ballot questions on Election Day, but with 52 percent of voters in favor, Mainers approved Question Five anyway.

Kyle Bailey, campaign manager with the group "Yes on 5," said its passage will give Maine voters more voice and more choice in future elections. Maine was the first state to impose clean-election legislation, he said, and now it will be the first state with ranked voting. The new law ends a long streak in which most Maine governors were elected with less-than-majority support from voters.

"Starting with the primary elections in 2018, voters in the State of Maine will have the power to rank candidates, from their favorite to their least favorite,” Bailey explained. "This citizen initiative applies to both general elections and primary elections."

The new system will allow for an instant runoff in races for state office if necessary, since voters will already have declared their second and third choices.

In his weekly radio address, Gov. LePage said he'll ask for a constitutional amendment that would change the requirements for how questions get onto the state ballot. Under the LePage proposal, voter signatures would be collected proportionally from each of the state's 16 counties.

Bailey said his group takes no position on the governor's idea, but he does have his own view.

"I believe that every voice matters equally - regardless of where you live, your voice should count - and no one's voice should count more than anybody else’s,” he said. "You've got to be careful when you change a system, to make sure that you have one where all voices are heard, and heard more loudly."

Bailey said Maine voters had solid reasons for backing Question Five, given the trend in recent elections.

"So, in nine of the last 11 elections for Maine's governor, the candidate who won received less-than-majority support,” Bailey said; "and in half of our governor's races, the candidate who won received less than 40 percent of the vote - so, over 60 percent of voters were voting for someone else."

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - ME