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posted by chromas on Wednesday June 13, @04:31PM   Printer-friendly
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Maine Is Trying Out A New Way To Run Elections. But Will It Survive The Night?

The man who lives in the Blaine House in Augusta, Maine, was, for many, a sneak preview of the 45th president of the United States. Like Donald Trump, Republican Gov. Paul LePage has transformed the face of government with his politically incorrect brand of conservatism — and he did it despite winning less than a majority of votes. LePage won a seven-way Republican primary for governor in 2010 with 37 percent of the vote, and he beat a Democrat and three independents in the general with just 38 percent.

Eight years later, it's far from clear that LePage would have a path to victory if he were running now in the Republican primary for governor. That's because, partly in response to LePage's plurality wins, Maine on Tuesday will become the first state to use ranked-choice voting to decide a statewide election. So not only are there races in Maine we'll be watching, but the process matters too. And if Maine voters don't pass an initiative reauthorizing the voting method at the same time, this real-life political-science experiment will be cut short.

The question of keeping ranked-choice in place for future primaries and Congressional races in the general election led 54-46 percent with 57% of precincts reporting at 12:05 AM EDT.

Maine's Governor Paul LePage has threatened to not certify the results, but that doesn't matter according to Maine's Secretary of State:

Gov. LePage on Tuesday says he "probably" won't certify results from the voter-approved ranked-choice voting system.

Maine law requires the secretary of state to tabulate results and get them to the governor within 20 days of an election. The governor "shall" certify them within a reasonable time period, but Secretary of State Matt Dunlap, a Democrat, said this only applies to state general elections and not primaries. "He can bluster all he wants, but he can't change the results," Dunlap said.

Also at WGME, Vox, NYT (live results), and Portland Press Herald.

Previously: Maine Supreme Court Approves Ranked-Choice Voting for 2018 Elections

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  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Thexalon on Wednesday June 13, @05:59PM (4 children)

    by Thexalon (636) on Wednesday June 13, @05:59PM (#692431) Homepage

    It's not a panacea, but it does mean that the winner is likely to at least not be completely loathed by the majority, which is a good thing.

    Also, on the off-chance that you're a politician trying to do right by your constituents (I know, fantasy, but let's pretend for a moment), it would be really useful to know which of your opponents the public thought was best. If it's a 3-way race between Smith, Jones, and Johnson, and Jones wins, it will help Jones to govern well if he knows whether more people like what Smith was saying or Johnson was saying. Or, alternately, if Jones doesn't do a good job of listening, it would help Jones's next opponents figure out whether the public would be behind someone who sounds more like Smith, or someone who sounds more like Johnson. Even from the political science point of view, that extra information would be interesting to have, since you're no longer throwing away the preferences other than the #1 choice.

    A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of bad gravy.
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  • (Score: 2) by frojack on Wednesday June 13, @06:40PM (3 children)

    by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday June 13, @06:40PM (#692463) Journal

    since you're no longer throwing away the preferences other than the #1 choice.

    Bullshit. You absolutely ARE throwing away preferences for anyone but the first winner.

    Are you trying to assert the second and third choices in the first election has any effect on the next election? You are delusional, and you are mixing inputs and outputs across events widely separated in time. You've let you laboratory experiment bleed over into real life.

    You can't bank second place and use it as a stepping stone to first place in some distant election. So any system of elections chosen with that in mind is base on a fantasy.

    No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
    • (Score: 4, Interesting) by Thexalon on Wednesday June 13, @07:29PM (1 child)

      by Thexalon (636) on Wednesday June 13, @07:29PM (#692490) Homepage

      I didn't say you'd save the votes for upcoming elections, which is ridiculous. I'm talking about the raw data, the ballots themselves. Compare two hypothetical results, first the plurality results:
      Smith (i.e. Smith > Jones or Johnson) - 150,255
      Jones (i.e. Jones > Smith or Johnson) - 200,127
      Johnson (i.e. Johnson > Smith or Jones) - 223,934

      And now the ranked-choice results for voters with the exact same preferences as what were recorded above:
      Smith > Jones > Johnson - 25,203
      Smith > Johnson > Jones - 125,052
      Jones > Smith > Johnson - 175, 867
      Jones > Johnson > Smith - 24,260
      Johnson > Smith > Jones - 142,362
      Johnson > Jones > Smith - 81,572

      In both cases, Johnson wins: In the plurality version, Johnson has the most votes. In the ranked-choice version, Smith is knocked out after round 1, and then Johnson's strength as the second-choice for Smith voters puts them over the top.

      The difference is that now everybody can look at that raw data and know more about voter's preferences, and can make decisions based on that. For instance, the Johnson administration can make sure that they aren't antagonizing the Smith supporters who picked Johnson as the #2 choice, and/or try to encourage Jones supporters to abandon Smith as the #2 option. Which means that now Johnson is being more responsive to the preferences of more citizens, which is part of the point of holding elections.

      A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of bad gravy.
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 14, @03:17AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 14, @03:17AM (#692676)

        Yeah well I'm voting Jackson/Thompson 2020! Glad there are no Gray or Brown supporters here. Those people are deplorables.

    • (Score: 4, Insightful) by tfried on Wednesday June 13, @07:35PM

      by tfried (5534) on Wednesday June 13, @07:35PM (#692492)

      Well, actually, what GP was probably trying to say is that you do not have to put Lesser Evil in the first place, for fear that voting for your real preference will be diverting votes from Lesser Evil, and help Greater Evil win. Instead you can vote for your real preference, and then put Lesser Evil in second place, just in case.

      So, before, you were throwing away the preferences for candidates other than those that people think are the top two before even conducting the ballot. Now, you will at least keep alternative preferences on record.

      Will that change the outcome in practice? Remains to be seen, but certainly only under somewhat special circumstances. Does it allow for a more accurate poll of public opinion? Definitely.