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Primary Tuesday Puts Ranked Choice Voting to the Test

As seen on this sample ballot, candidates’ names will appear in the left column and the rankings across the top. Simply fill in the ovals to correspond with your choices. (maine.gov)
As seen on this sample ballot, candidates’ names will appear in the left column and the rankings across the top. Simply fill in the ovals to correspond with your choices. (maine.gov)
June 11, 2018

AUGUSTA, Maine – Mainers will use ranked choice voting in Tuesday's primary, selecting candidates in their order of preference.

If a first choice can't win, the vote instantly counts toward the voter's backup choice.

Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap has been visiting libraries across the state to explain how ranked choice works.

On his tour stop in Lewiston, he said one of the most frequent questions is, what to do if you don't know all the candidates?

He explains it's only necessary to vote for one, and voters don't need to rank every candidate.

Dunlap says votes are counted just as they've always been counted. Candidates that fail in the first round don't move on.

"Just like if you voted for Wonder Woman today, and she was beat out by [actress] Hermione Granger,” he explains. “It works the same way. So, your ballot is exhausted after that first tabulation, if Wonder Woman does not move on to the next round."

Mainers will use ranked choice voting in four races – the Democratic and Republican gubernatorial nominations, the Democratic representative in Congress from the District 2, and the Republican representative in the Maine Legislature from House District 7.

Just last month, Maine Republicans filed a lawsuit to try to stop ranked choice voting, but were unsuccessful.

This is the first time any state has used the system in a state election.

According to Dunlap, tabulating the results is a long process.

"Determining the winner of each election will take a while, given the size of the great state of Maine, but we'll report the unofficial results as soon as they are ready, so you'll know who has been chosen for each elected office," he states.

In addition, there's an up-or-down vote on whether to continue to use ranked choice voting in state and federal elections, or delay it until the state Constitution can be amended to allow it.

Dunlap says if you want ranked choice to continue, vote 'yes.' If you want to go back to the old way, vote 'no.'

Linda Barr, Public News Service - ME