June 11, 2018

How ranked choice voting worked in a mayor's race

Portland Press Herald - Although Maine is poised to become the first in the nation to use ranked-choice voting in statewide races Tuesday, Portland has used the voting method twice already to choose a mayor.

Those involved in both elections agreed that knowing voters would be ranking their candidates forced them to reach out to more voters and think twice about going negative, because it was important to appeal to an opponent’s supporters, whose backing would be needed in an instant runoff.

“We dramatically expanded the universe of people we reached out to and I think that’s a good thing in terms of campaigns,” said Michael Brennan, who in 2011 became Portland’s first popularly elected mayor in nearly 90 years through ranked-choice voting.

.... After Portland’s first ranked-choice election in 2011, FairVote, a nonprofit, nonpartisan group that supports ranked-choice voting, conducted a survey of 122 voters. It found that 94 percent of those people fully understood ranked-choice voting and 66 percent said ranking the candidates was easy or very easy.

However, 52 percent ranked between two and five candidates in the 15-way race. And about 12 percent voted for only one person, which is referred to as bullet voting.

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