On November 6, Mainers will go to the polls and see a ballot that looks new to them if they did not vote in this year's primary election. This will be the first general election in Maine to have some offices decided through ranked-choice voting.


Maine became the only state in the county to use ranked-choice voting when it was approved by 52% of Maine voters in the 2016 state referendum, but now that it's here for the general election, there's still some confusion about how it works.

Ranked-choice voting means you rank as many or as few candidates as you like. Your vote will go to your second choice for office if your first choice does not win a majority of the vote. Votes continue to be distributed down the rankings until there is candidate with a majority of the votes.

Some things you should know:

1. Ranked-choice voting will only be used for these elections:

  • The U.S. Senate race: Eric Brakey (R), Angus King (I), Zak Ringelstein (D)
  • The U.S. Congressional District 1 race: Martin Grohman (I), Mark Holbrook (R), Chellie Pingree (D)
  • The U.S. Congressional District 2 race: Tiffany Bond (I), Jared Golden (D), William Hoar (I), Bruce Poliquin (R)

Ranked-choice will not be used in the election for Governor or State Legislature.

2. With such a close vote to enact ranked-choice voting, there are many voters in Maine who do not wish to participate in ranked-choice voting. Voters in that case can choose only one candidate. Voters do not need to rank all the candidates.

3. With several rounds of voting it will take time to determine a winner as ballots have to be transported to Augusta to be scanned until the next round can be can be tallied. We may not know the results for several days after the election.

The Maine Department of the Secretary of State had this video put together to help explain how ranked-choice voting works with a pretty good cartoon likeness of Secretary of State Matt Dunlap.

If you still have questions about ranked-choice voting, you can view an FAQ and see some sample ballots by hitting the link below.