Ballot initiatives are currently on 24 state ballots for the next election. In short, voters produce a petition to have a certain issue on the ballot for a public vote; a form of direct democracy. Sounds great, right? But, some issues arise out of voting directly on a ballot initiative:

These include:

  • oversimplified language that may cause voters to vote yes on an issue that they actually do not agree with
  • undermining our representative form of government
  • no limits on funding for these initiatives

As stated already, half of our states are still trying to make it work.

Six ballot initiatives will appear as questions on Maine’s November ballot. Some of those questions deal with marijuana reform, minimum wage laws, gun safety, funding for education, and less known, the initiative for ranked-choice voting (Question 5).

Ranked-choice voting (RCV) includes choosing candidates in nominal order; 1st choice, 2nd choice, 3rd choice, etc. The candidate with the least amount of votes is eliminated, and his or her votes are allocated to the next choice candidate, based on the ranking order the citizen chose on the ballot. This method helps reflect a majority of support for candidates, instead of voting for the “lesser liked choice.” Ranked-choice voting allows third-party candidates to stand a chance in elections. Of course, this is an oversimplification of initiative and the actual process is more complicating than this author can explain.

In an effort to persuade voters that ranked-choice voting is easy and smart, the Committee for Ranked Choice Voting held demonstrations at local breweries during the month of September. The initiative used beer flights to demonstrate how ranked-choice voting would work, but incorporated everyone’s favorite past time, drinking beer!

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I wonder if these demonstrations will make a difference on Question 5 on Maine’s November ballot. Stay tuned to find out!

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