RCV counting is simple
It is my understanding that Bruce Poliquin’s request for a recount in the 2018 General Election for Maine’s 2nd Congressional District stems in part from concerns about the use of proprietary software to determine the winner. While I agree that the use of Open Source software would move the state toward a more fully transparent election system, I want to assure all who share these concerns that determining the winner of a ranked-choice race is neither complex nor opaque and that it is possible to tabulate the results by applying the rules one round at a time using the sort-and-delete functions of Microsoft Excel.
After each ranked-choice race, I’ve download the cast vote record from the secretary of state’s web page and applied the tabulation rules one step at a time to confirm the official results. It’s tedious, but I prefer it to trusting our elections to proprietary software. If you’d like to repeat the analysis yourself, please contact the League of Women Voters of Maine for a copy of my instructions.
The secretary of state should continue to use automated software for this task because computers are better suited to repetitive tasks with large datasets. Interested citizens should continue to check their work and candidates should continue to request recounts whenever they have reason to believe that the reported outcomes may be in error. In this way, we can all retain confidence that our elections remain free and fair.
Need to fix Belfast
I have no doubt Belfast Mayor Samantha Paradis has experienced moments of unfair treatment since being elected mayor. The broad strokes she’s using to describe it leave natural human curiosity with little choice but to explore for themselves what exactly she might be talking about so we’ve all been armchair psychologizing over this.
In the meantime, she is reiterating those same vague claims to an ever-widening circle of state and national press eager for a juicy story of modern strife. What Paradis fails to understand is that when we elected her mayor, we laid upon her our trust that she will be our No. 1 champion. Everyone at city hall has their role in managing the business of the city. The mayor’s most sacred duty is to make sure Belfast always has its best foot forward. Paradis spent recent days making sure the world knows she finds us a rather disappointing bunch.
All I can think of are the hundreds of Belfastians that have put thousands of hours of thought, time, labor and millions of their hard-earned dollars into making this city a wonderful place to be. The way Paradis has chosen to speak to her truth, to make it so public and confrontational, yet still so very vague, hurts us all. She hurts our livelihoods by painting a poor picture of us to the broader world. She hurts our relations with our fellow citizens because we are all wondering which one of us was such a jerk to her.
What can we all do to help fix it?
A changed GOP
My grandfathers were both lifelong Republicans. They knew that freedom and opportunity brought responsibilities, to respond to community needs and strive to live virtuously. They practiced honesty, generosity and courage in their everyday lives and gave of their time and talents in many ways. They understood that individuals and communities can only flourish together, recognizing there are things more valuable than narrow self-interest.
The Republican Party that fostered their concern for community and character now has a different agenda — to promote and protect the money and power of those with money and power, through tax cuts for the wealthy, shrinking the social safety net and voter suppression. This agenda is indifferent or hostile to the interests of most of us, so our attention must be re-directed — into fear and hatred of “others” made out to be the cause of whatever is lacking in our lives. The steady drumbeat of “alerts” on Fox News, presidential tweets, angry talk show personalities and online conspiracy theorists agitate us to fear and hate “them” — people of color, Muslims, Democrats, welfare recipients, the press, etc.
Rather than building community, the agenda aims to hold power by fracturing society into “us” and “them.” Far from promoting virtuous behavior, it makes character the enemy. As every Republican politician knows, courageously speak the truth and act with concern for the rights and well-being of “others” and you become one of “them,” to be ostracized and attacked.
My Republican grandfathers are rolling over in their graves.