Could ranked choice voting go statewide?

In talking with Mike Tipping of the Maine People’s Resource Center, the nonprofit organization which recently announced poll results projecting Michael Brennan to win the Portland mayoral race, I asked whether he thought ranked choice voting would ever be considered in statewide elections.

Tipping, who is also a political columnist for Down East magazine, agreed with the assumption that had the so-called “instant run-off” process been used in the 2010 Maine gubernatorial race, Independent Eliot Cutler likely would have defeated Republican Paul LePage.

LePage actually won, as we all know. LePage earned 38 percent of the votes compared to Cutler’s 36 percent. But many people assume Cutler would have been the second choice on the ballots cast for Democrat Libby Mitchell (19 percent), and reallocating her second place votes as first place votes would have leapfrogged Cutler to victory.

It’s all speculation, of course. According to the most recent poll results (while we’re on the subject of polls), LePage has gained in popularity over the past six months.

When asked about the possibility of using ranked choice voting to pick Maine’s next governor, among other statewide races, Tipping said he thought people would be watching Portland this year as they form their opinions moving forward.

Briefly, here is what he said:

I think people are looking to Portland to see how this works, and we’re getting a real crucible, a real test of the system with 15 candidates. This will influence people’s desire to change their elections.

Seth Koenig

About Seth Koenig

Seth has nearly a decade of professional journalism experience and writes about the greater Portland region.