Maine became the first state in the county to use ranked-choice voting when it was approved by 52% of Maine voters in the 2016 state referendum. Since then Alaska has become the second state to use ranked-choice. As we near another election, many still have questions about how ranked choice voting works. One of the biggest questions is what if I don't want to rank my choices? Let's cover that and other things you need to know about ranked-choice voting for the 2022 general election.

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 a candidate with a majority of the votes.

Some things you should know:

1. Ranked-choice voting will only be used for these elections in Maine in 2022:

  • The U.S. Congressional District 1 race: Chellie Pingree (D), Edwin Thelander (R)
  • The U.S. Congressional District 2 race: Jared Golden (D), Bruce Poliquin (R)

In May 2017, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court ruled that a requirement in the state’s constitution that winners in gubernatorial and legislative general elections receive a “plurality” of the vote prohibits the use of ranked-choice voting in those races. Plurality means that the candidate must receive more votes than any other to win, but does not necessarily have to receive more than half of all votes cast. This is why the race for Governor in Maine may not use ranked-choice voting.

2. Voters in Maine who do not wish to participate in ranked-choice voting 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 for ranked-choice elections on the Maine ballots as they have be transported to Augusta to be scanned until the next round can be tallied. We may not know those results for several days after the election.

The Maine Department of the Secretary of State had this video put together for the 2018 election to help explain how ranked-choice voting works with a pretty good cartoon likeness of former Secretary of State Matt Dunlap.

If you still have questions about ranked-choice voting, you can view an FAQ at the link below.

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