Rep. Bruce Poliquin and the Republicans, as self-proclaimed protectors of the people’s voice, don’t have a leg to stand to on. Although, having packed the courts, they may have a bench to fall back on. Thankfully, so far, not here in Maine.
So far, Maine has been immune to GOP voter suppression schemes. However, we have been plagued by putting into office candidates the majority of voters would prefer to send packing (for instance Governor Paul LePage, who is now packing himself off to Florida rather than pay the Maine taxes that pay his salary and benefits package).
Ranked choice voting may be an effective solution to the problem of vote splitting. But it does not address one dilemma at the base of this frustration.
It is presented as leveling the playing field for third-party candidates. In fact, it eases the decision-making for voters who prefer to express their range of feelings rather than submit to the rigors of a strategic choice. It cushions the consciences of those unwilling to compromise on voting for the “lesser of two evils” from complicity in electing the “greater of two evils.”
Ranked choice voting may be legitimate as well as legal. It invites the consideration of a wider array of more nuanced agendas, attracts more voters to participate, encourages conscientious independent candidates and may even contribute to the emergence of a viable third party. These are all good things. But, still I would like to see it for what it is, while hoping that we make it something better.
I have only lived here five years, but I have not seen the ground-up building of a viable third party. Instead, I have seen individuals putting themselves forward for relatively high office to broadcast their point of view and/or further their political careers. And voters seemingly disinclined to consider the implications of voting for them.
I see this as prioritizing self over community, emotions over ethics and reflex over reason in our elections. I think an argument can be made that we have already gone too far in that direction. And so, for very different reasons than Republicans, who only criticize RCV to tilt the playing field in their favor, I have my doubts. Not about the 2018 CD 2 election results, which were by the book, but about the process, which it would be better to debate and develop rather than litigate.