When voters rank their first, second and third-choice candidates, the winner is backed by at least half of voters — not a radical idea for a democracy.
On Thursday, election officials in Maine declared Democrat Jared Golden to be the first member of Congress elected by “ranked-choice voting” (“RCV”). Maine’s idea should now be adopted by New Hampshire for its presidential primary, and by battleground states for the general election as well.
Under Maine’s system, voters can rank their choices among the candidates on the ballot — first, second, third, etc. First choices are then tallied. If no candidate gets 50 percent or more, the bottom candidate is dropped, and the second choice of those voters gets added to the tallies of the remaining candidates. If there is still no candidate with 50 percent or more, then the procedure is repeated, until there is a candidate who has the support of at least 50 percent of the voters. The results at each stage are reported, so early leads are known. But in the end, the ultimate winner has the support of at least half of voters — not a terribly radical idea in a democracy.