Ranked choice voting in Maine allowed to proceed

Ranked choice voting in Maine allowed to proceed
Posted at 9:54 PM, Sep 22, 2020

While the vast majority of us only get to vote for one candidate on the ballot, voters in Maine are allowed to vote for multiple candidates.

Maine's unique election process was approved by voters in 2016.

Although this might sound like a strange way of voting, the process allows for “instant runoffs.” Election officials continually eliminate the last-place candidate until there are only two candidates left or a candidate receives a majority of the vote.

For instance, if your first choice is eliminated, your second choice becomes your vote until that candidate is eliminated or is declared the winner.

On Tuesday, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court ruled against a GOP-led initiative that attempted to delay the use of ranked choice voting in the presidential election. The court struck down a lower-court ruling.

The process had already been used in the primary and the 2018 midterm. Governor Paul LePage protested the results from the 2018 election, and threatened not to certify the results. In Maine’s House District 2, Democrat Jared Golden won the election despite not receiving a plurality of first-choice votes. Golden ended up garnering a majority after two independent candidates were eliminated.

Maine is also unique as it is only one of two US states that divvy up Electoral College votes based on congressional districts. While the winner of Maine’s statewide vote automatically garners two Electoral College votes, the state’s other two votes are given to the candidate who wins within a congressional district.

In 2016, Hillary Clinton won the state’s overall vote, but failed to win both of the state’s congressional districts, which resulted in Donald Trump taking one of the state’s four Electoral College votes.

For this year’s election, while the Maine’s first congressional district is expected to lead Joe Biden to a statewide victory, the second district is expected to be a tight race.