Defend ranked-choice voting
A common phenomenon in Maine elections known as the “spoiler effect” has often pitted the idealism of voters against the reality that they may need to support a certain candidate in order to prevent the election of their least favorite candidate.
Some benefits of ranked-choice voting deserve repeating. This system could give voters more voice and make them feel more empowered in politics. Think how many people you know that just don’t bother to vote because they don’t feel it makes a difference. It also could motivate more underdog candidates to run for office, so that we can have a truly broad, substantive debate about the issues.
We are preparing to use ranked-choice voting in the already crowded June 2018 primary elections, ensuring that major party nominees are backed by a majority of their voters. This is crucial. Without this reform, it is conceivable that nominees could emerge with somewhere in the neighborhood of the 37 percent support that sent Libby Mitchell and Paul LePage to the general election in 2010.
The use of ranked-choice voting in the gubernatorial primaries does not conflict with the Maine Constitution. Between now and June, we must ensure that this portion of the law is preserved against full repeal efforts by opponents in the next legislative session. Be in touch with your legislators now and let them know how important this is for a more representative democracy.
Hurricane Harvey volunteers
Many Mainers are looking for ways to help Hurricane Harvey survivors. I study disaster volunteerism and would like to suggest ways to effectively volunteer.
The recent BDN article about Maine American Red Cross volunteers deploying to assist Hurricane Harvey may have inspired some to want to volunteer. The images on TV are devastating, so it is natural to want to help. Though it comes from a place of good will, if you’re not a trained volunteer deployed through an organization like the Red Cross, flying to Texas right now is a bad idea.
Post-disaster people flood into the affected communities to offer assistance. The problem is that these well-meaning people often are not trained, are not working with an organization, and are a drain on already limited resources.
What will happen when you get to Texas? Where will you stay? Where will you eat? How will you get around? How will you find people who need help? What resources will you have to actually meet their current needs?
The recovery from Harvey will take a decade. We can expect a drop off in volunteer numbers in the coming months as people move on to other urgent news stories. The issue is that in a few months there will be a need for volunteers, especially to help with rebuilding.
If you want to volunteer in Texas, you should just wait. Plan a trip down for the spring. There will be plenty of opportunities to volunteer, and you won’t be adding to an overwhelmed community.
Reject Medicaid expansion
It is not that we are aging faster than the rest of the country, but that our young people must leave the state to find good jobs and then raise our grandchildren there. Our young people are economic refugees much like the refugees fleeing failed socialistic systems (see Venezuela) to find jobs.
Recently, we came very close to retaking the title of “highest taxed state” due to the proposed 3 percent surtax on high income earners. We now have another opportunity to redo a Gov. Angus King program that failed miserably just a few years ago — Medicaid for people under 65.
Before that effort was terminated, it cost hundreds of millions of dollars. We have spent years undoing the damage it did and restoring the state’s business reputation. Other states that have expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act are experiencing the same negative consequences.
We are making good progress on health care in Maine and are improving the business climate. Vote no on the Medicaid question on the November ballot. It did not work before, and it is unlikely to work now. Let our Legislature do its job and find a solution that does works.