Ranked-choice voting improves democracy
Ranked-choice voting offers an opportunity for those of us who have felt disenfranchised by the political status quo to take back the power the Constitution intended we should have all along. In five of the last 11 Maine gubernatorial races the winners took less than 40 percent of the votes cast and those governors, whether they felt constrained or not, were really only accountable to the minority that elected them.
Had we been using ranked-choice voting, voters who wanted Eliot Cutler as governor, as I did, and picked Michael Michaud as their second choice would have had their Cutler votes added to Michaud’s total. If everyone who voted for Cutler had chosen Michaud as their second choice, Michaud would have won the election 316,000 to LePage’s 295,000.
Finally, under the provisions of ranked-choice voting, each candidate will be more interested in appealing to a broader spectrum of voters than might otherwise be the case, and contests will be more likely to focus on the issues we all care about than on character assassination.
Moratorium on immigration
We need a moratorium on all immigration from the Middle East but not for the reasons cited by Republican governors. The vetting process for Syrian refugees will be exceptionally rigorous, and it’s highly unlikely terrorists will enter as refugees. It’s much easier to enter the U.S. as illegal immigrants, with student or tourist visas, or with fraudulent identities. Our tolerance for illegal immigration has made identity theft a booming global industry, and the Islamic State has even begun to generate its own documents.
In five years, we issued 680,000 green cards to immigrants from Muslim majority nations, and naturally they cluster in their American communities, just as we would under similar circumstances. As Europe is experiencing, the real threat comes from second- and third-generation Muslim youth, living in marginalized, impoverished neighborhoods with high unemployment. This is where the Islamic State is finding recruits.
Brussels, Belgium, from where the Paris attacks were planned, has a large Muslim population, and about 6 percent of Belgium’s population is Muslim. Concerning tolerance and inclusivity, Europe has nothing more to prove and neither do we.
Instead of enlarging our Muslim communities even more, let’s focus on job creation, education and opportunity for those already here. The cost of resettling one Syrian refugee in America would support 12 Syrians living in United Nations refugee camps. Let’s focus our compassion where we can do the most good, especially in countries such as Turkey, bearing the lion’s share of providing sanctuary to millions in this heart-breaking situation.
Mainers for Sensible Immigration Policy
Restore majority rule
I am writing in support of ranked-choice voting, a common-sense reform to our voting system that puts power back in the hands of voters and makes politicians more accountable to us. Mainers will have an opportunity to cast a vote in favor of ranked-choice voting at the polls next November.
There is a problem with the way we elect our leaders. The turmoil in Augusta has shown us we need to change the way we vote. In five of the last 11 races for Maine’s governor, candidates were elected by less than 40 percent of voters. In a representative democracy, our leaders should be elected by more than half of us, so they represent the people and are accountable to us, not to narrow political factions.
Ranked-choice voting restores majority rule and gives more power to voters. If a voter’s favorite candidate can’t win by a majority or more, his or her vote is instantly counted for his or her second choice, so no voter ever has to feel like a vote is wasted.
By restoring majority rule and giving voters the power to rank candidates, ranked-choice voting encourages candidates to reach beyond their bases and appeal more broadly for support. Because voters are less likely to rank as their second choice a candidate who has issued personal attacks against their favorite candidate, ranked-choice voting reduces incentives for negative campaigning.
Republicans, Democrats, independents, Greens and libertarians across Maine are coming together in support of this nonpartisan initiative.