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Maine’s New Ranked Choice Voting System

Article Link: https://www.popsci.com/best-voting-system-math

In 2016, Maine residents voted for an new scheme of voting called Ranked Choice Voting to replace plurality voting. This system allowed voters to vote this year in many of their elections by ranking the candidates rather than just choosing one person. If no single candidate receives a majority of the first preference votes, the candidate with least votes is eliminated and those votes are redistributed to the second preference of those voters. This instant runoff system continues until one candidate receives a majority and wins the election. This system is already in use in many places for political and non-political purposes. A major benefit is that it allows voters to vote for 3rd parties without wasting their vote on a candidate with low chances of winning. Now they can vote for whoever they want without the United States’ 2 party system and plurality voting making their vote meaningless. Unfortunately this change only has occurred for Maine’s federal elections as their supreme court already found this system to conflict with their constitution. In addition, one of the losing candidates is already claiming the system violates the U.S. constitution and has filed a lawsuit against the state. Even if ranked choice voting violates the constitution, hopefully ranked choice voting or other systems which provide benefits over plurality voting spread across the U.S. and the country adopts the change.

This article discusses many aspects of voting which have been recently discussed in lecture. The Ranked Choice Voting system described is very similar to the Borda Count system. While the Borda Count system assigns values to each alternative, Ranked Choice Voting works by eliminated the least voted for candidates and then recalculating votes based on the next preference. It appears to be a modified version of Borda Count which uses elimination to determine a candidate with greater than 50% choice by voters. Ranked Choice Voting still suffers from potential manipulation by the reordering of candidate preference which many not be truthful. This was already seen as candidates asked voters to not only vote for themselves but to rank other candidates with similar beliefs and ideals higher than candidates from other parties. Though we know due to Arrow’s impossibility theorem there is no perfect voting system. While systems like Borda Count have existed since before the 1800s, most have been impractical in large elections with millions of voters. Now that research on voting systems has matured and technology has developed to accommodate, hopefully political systems take a further look at alternatives to current voting methods.

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