Commentary

A Message to RCV Supporters: Lepage Won, Get Over It Already

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At a recent political event, I was confronted by a ranked choice voting supporter who was looking to spread awareness about the question that will appear on the ballot this coming November.

“Are you interested in learning about ranked choice voting?” they asked. Not one to brush off political canvassers or volunteers (as I know how difficult a job they have) I told them I did have one question: “why do we need ranked choice voting?”

The canvasser was well-prepared, and quickly launched into a spiel about how ranked choice voting could give more power to voters, better account for multiple candidates, reduce negative campaigning and so on and so forth. While these talking points sounded beneficial, they didn’t exactly get to the heart of my question.

“Why now. Why push for ranked choice voting this year or this election cycle?”

And therein lies the real problem: there is no good reason for ranked choice voting.

There’s no solid answer as to why this is happening now, or why we suddenly need to overhaul the way we elect for political candidates. There’s no reason to suddenly and drastically transform the way we cast our votes, making things much more complex (and unconstitutional).

The canvasser explained that the idea of ranked choice voting in Maine had been around for more than a decade, and was originally supported by legislators in 2001. It was given strong consideration after John Baldacci won with less than a majority, and has roared back to life in the aftermath of Gov. LePage’s two victories.

So, ranked choice voting is a nothing more than a backlash against political victories, and a way for sore losers to attempt to rig the system for future elections.

It’s the equivalent to an elementary-school child throwing a tantrum and demanding that in the next round of kickball, they get to set the rules. The only reason the left has been pushing for ranked choice voting these past few years is because it cannot accept the fact that Paul LePage was the best choice for Governor and won because of it.

Proponents of ranked choice voting are quick to point out that only two governors in the last 50 years have received a majority of the vote, and that all the rest have been elected by far less a majority. They contend that if Maine had ranked choice voting, other candidates would most likely have been the ones leading our state government.

And who can deny that we would have been better off with Eliot Cutler, Mike Michaud, Libby Mitchell, Barbara Merrill, Pat LaMarche, Jonathan Carter or Tom Connolly in the Blaine House?

Proponents also make claims of bipartisanship or Republican support. The Committee for Ranked Choice Voting claims on their website that it has “growing support [sic] Republican, Democratic and Independent lawmakers.”

They also point out that bills addressing ranked choice voting (or instant runoffs, as it was previously called) came up when John Baldacci and Angus King were Governor.

However, these claims are less than accurate. The Ranked Choice Voting Committee lists just a handful of current Republican legislators and elected officials who are supporting ranked choice voting, such as Sen. Roger Katz, a well-known opponent of LePage.

And between the five bills on ranked choice voting that came up before LePage, there were just seven Republican co-sponsors, with not a single Republican being the prime sponsor of any of the bills. Compare that to the 47 Democrats who sponsored or co-sponsored these bills.

One also only needs to examine who is pushing ranked choice voting this time around to see the real motivation behind this initiative. For example, the League of Women Voters is one of the most vocal supporters leading the charge. This organization has a long history of supporting liberal causes and issues, such as the Clean Elections Initiative and increased gun control. LWV even admits that it began searching for a way to reform our election system in the aftermath of President Bush’s victory in the 2000 Presidential Election.

Rep. Diane Russell (D-Portland) is another strong proponent of ranked choice voting – but her criticism of Gov. LePage have been well-documented, and she even circulated a petition in the past calling on the Governor to resign.

All of this doesn’t even get to the fact that ranked choice voting is just a bad policy. As noted by James Langan, “despite its theoretical promise to improve elections, instant runoff voting is a potentially illegal reform with unclear benefits, probable negative side effects, and possible unintended consequences.”

A 2005 study by the Maine Legislature even found that the only way ranked choice voting would be logistically possible would be if “substantial State funding can be devoted to the effort.”

There’s no doubt that ranked choice voting is wrong for Maine, and an example of a terrible policy that liberals are trying to sneak through the referendum process.

And this is not right. Maine has a rich tradition of democracy – and a storied history of allowing ordinary citizens to approve public policy and create laws. But this tradition is being hijacked by sore losers and ideologues who are determined to alter the playing field, and ensure they will have an advantage going forward.

Ranked choice voting is nothing but a gimmick put forth by partisan politicians who are upset about the past, and want to ensure their candidates win in the future.

So if you support ranked choice voting, I have just one thing to say to you: Give it up. Governor LePage won.

About Plead the Fifth

This author has requested to remain anonymous.

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