Our election should be a fair process — everybody gets an equal chance to vote and the process presents an equal and fair opportunity for our vote to be counted.
But history shows us that since our republic was formed different folks have tried to influence elections to give their side an unequal and upper hand. Not letting women vote, poll taxes, gerrymandering, unfair voting conditions for ethnic groups, recent false claims that mail-in voting creates fraud, and the list goes on. One reason the Ku Klux Klan formed was to prevent Black people from voting.
Maine voters have supported ranked-choice voting twice and still there are those trying to put forth a referendum to do away with ranked-choice voting for presidential elections. To further delay the implementation of ranked-choice voting is a slap in the face to the majority of Maine voters who twice supported the measure by a large margin.
Voters are tired of delay, delay, delay. And I think we’ve seen that they are upset. Delay sours voters and negatively affects voter turnout because people believe “it doesn’t matter what we say, the politicians do whatever they want anyway.”
Why would they do that? The simple answer, I believe, is that Maine Republicans believe they’ll lose if the vote is ranked choice and President Donald Trump has said publicly that Republicans will lose if mail-in ballots are allowed.
Their plan seems to be to do away with ranked-choice voting, claim fraud from mail-in ballots, make everyone go to the polls in person during a global pandemic and consequently suppress voter turnout.
Many states have dropped the word “absentee” and just use mail-in ballots regularly. Even the very Republican state of Utah regularly uses mail-in ballots and Utah Republican Sen. Romney said, “I’ll bet 90 percent of us vote by mail.”
And as Fox News Chris Wallace said in May, “I’ve done some deep dive into it, there really is no record of massive fraud or even serious fraud from mail-in voting.”
Mail-in ballots have worked without issue for soldiers, shut-ins, elderly, travelers and, of late, the convenience of all voters to allow more people to vote. In Maine, all registered voters can request an absentee ballot.
Maine has an outstanding record for voter turnout and vote integrity. It would be great to see even more turn out. But we can be proud of our turnout and our voting process.
Mail-in ballots encourage more people to vote. And ranked-choice voting gets more people excited to see their first, second, third and possibly more choices count toward an election win by a majority.
Maine has led the way nationally in using ranked-choice voting and it proved itself in a 2018 four-way race to elect a congressional candidate with a majority of the votes.
This November would have been our first chance since the law was enacted to use it in a presidential election, but yet another referendum to block the vote is underway. If the secretary of state certifies the referendum petition signatures turned in last month, ranked-choice voting for presidential elections will be on hold until the outcome of the referendum vote in November.
It’s our opportunity in Maine to make sure fair choice elections prevail. Support the continued use of mail-in ballots and support ranked-choice voting.
Ron Lovaglio of Augusta was commissioner of conservation under Gov. Angus King.