Maine Just Decided To Switch To Ranked-Choice Voting; What's That?

Maine made a huge change to the way it does elections.
Posted at 3:15 AM, Nov 09, 2016

One state is shaking up its election system with ranked-choice voting.

In Maine, instead of picking just one candidate, voters will rank their top choices.

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If no candidate gets a majority, the lowest candidate is thrown out, and second-choice votes are redistributed until there's a clear winner.

Which is important for Maine. Only one of the past five governor races in Maine had a candidate win more than 50 percent.

Advocates say this could dramatically improve the way we run elections.

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"Campaigns run not only for those first choices but to be second choices," said Michelle Whittaker, communications director for FairVote. "You're not going to see as many negative campaigns because there's no benefit in a campaign going negative on a candidate because that's, again, going to impact their chances of getting second."

It could also have an effect on third-party candidates.

"There's no longer the 'spoiler effect' because you can vote for the candidate you like the most," Whittaker said. "That can be a third-party candidate, that can be an independent, and it's not going to help the candidate you like least."