In this Nov. 12, 2018 file photo, an election worker sorts a stack of ballots during a ranked choice voting tabulation in Augusta. Credit: Robert F. Bukaty / AP

The BDN Opinion section operates independently and does not set newsroom policies or contribute to reporting or editing articles elsewhere in the newspaper or on bangordailynews.com.

Republicans in Utah are trying to follow Maine’s lead to get majority rule with ranked-choice voting. Georgians must go through the expense and time of “run-off” elections in order to get to the majority required by their constitution. However, with Maine’s ranked-choice voting, we already have the cost-efficient and democratically effective way to choose majority winners — even for president and U.S. Senate this year.

Our ranked-choice voting saves time, money, and guarantees majority wins with its instant run-off system. We need not worry about “spoilers,” “wasted” votes, minority winners, or the expense of holding a full-blown run-off election as they do in Georgia in order to get to majority rule.

Ask yourself, of the five candidates running for president, who would do the best job? That’s who you should rank as your first choice. Now, ask yourself, if that candidate couldn’t win, who could you live with? That’s who you should rank as your second choice.

In the U.S. Senate race, who would you prefer? That’s your first choice. If she or he couldn’t win, who is next-best? That’s your second choice.

Rank as many or as few candidates as you wish. You can’t hurt your first choice. If no candidate receives an outright majority, ballots are counted in rounds where last-place candidates are eliminated but their voters are not if they have ranked other candidates. This process of instant run-off continues until one candidate reaches a majority and wins. Your ballot counts for your second choice only if your first choice is eliminated.

Here are some things to know when ranking your vote in the 2020 election:

You will use a pen to fill in the ovals on your paper ballot just like always, but this year you will have the opportunity to express your true opinions about more than one candidate by ranking them from your most favorite to your least favorite (first choice, second choice, and so on).

You will have the choice to rank as many or as few candidates as you like — secure in the knowledge that you cannot hurt your favorite candidate by ranking the others. To be clear, your vote counts for your second choice only if your first choice is eliminated so you are not left out because, if your first choice was eliminated, your ballot now counts for your second choice.

In other words, on election night, your ballot counts for your first choice. If no candidate receives a majority, the candidate in last-place is eliminated and ballots are counted again for the remaining candidates. If your first choice was eliminated, your ballot now counts for your second choice. If your first choice remains, your ballot continues to count for your first choice. This process repeats until one candidate receives a majority and wins.

That’s it, folks. Majority rules, majority wins, no spoilers, more choice, more freedom. Please vote.

John V. Lesko is a retired college professor who lives in Parsonsfield.