Maine makes history as first US state to back fair votes

Fifty-two per cent vote to scrap First Past the Post for all 2018 elections


As the world analyses the result of the US presidential election, there’s one result you might have missed.

On Tuesday, one state made a symbolic breakthrough: Maine became the first US state to scrap First Past the Post.

The northern New England state passed an initiative to introduce ‘ranked voting’ – the Alternative Vote system that allows people to pick candidates by order of preference.

With 98 per cent of precinct results in, it looks like Maine citizens have backed reform by 52 to 48 per cent.

‘Question 5’ was put forward by the Committee for Ranked Choice Voting and backed by FairVote.

Ranked voting is already used in San Francisco and Portland, and has helped to seed the idea of electoral reform among the public, but this is the first successful statewide effort for a fairer voting system. So far, that is.

It means that Maine is set to adopt AV for all its 2018 elections for the U.S. Senate, U.S. House, the governor and the state legislature, following a series of elections where governors and other individuals have repeatedly won on under 50 per cent of the popular vote.

There’s more good news. Benton County, Oregon, has also voted to adopt ranked choice voting in what the campaign described as a ‘landslide’, while four California cities used it last night for their mayoral and city council elections.

And it could be a springboard for further reform pushes across the country. Indeed, FairVote have just launched FairVote California – one of the largest states – so that could be the place to watch next.

Kye Bailey, who ran the campaign in Maine, said:

“Voters are feeling like they have to vote strategically for the lesser of two evils, and this system gives voters more choice and more voice.”

Will Brett, Head of Campaignsat FairVote, was there for the campaign, and reports that ‘The messaging was clean, simple and effective’. ‘More voice, more choice.’ It clearly went down well.

FairVote has backed the push for ranked voting in Maine and elsewhere while continuing to campaign for proportional voting in state legislatures and Congress. We look forward to following the next steps in the US-wide push for fair votes.

Katie Ghose is a member of FairVote‘s Board

See: How Trump won the presidency despite getting fewer votes than Clinton

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8 Responses to “Maine makes history as first US state to back fair votes”

  1. Cupper

    You are aware that the Labour party is the big beneficiary of first past the post in the UK right? Due to the make up of constituencies they need far fewer votes than the Tories to win majorities in the Commons. Makes it ironic that you now praise reform in the US just because of Trump.

    It is amazing that when we had Blair there was no bleating about the unfairness of FPTP, but now there are the Tories and Trump there is a lot of bleating.

    Also the big beneficiary of any electoral reform in the UK will be UKIP. The Islington socialists seem to be so disconnected with reality that they fail to truly consider this, but no doubt would go apoplectic if the UKIP vote actually received democractic representation in parliament.

    The only way Islington socialists can have it their way is to take away democracy and impose their will on the country. But hey that is classic socialism right?, as witnessed across the world in the 20th century.

  2. Mike Stallard

    “There’s more good news. ”
    We over here live in a country which is full of people who come from extremely undemocratic backgrounds. Tower Hamlets showed what can happen. And it is just one example of many.
    Whenever the system gets complicated – and postal voting is an extremely good example – remember all those false signatures a while back? Or the fact that the paterfamilias signs up for the entire extended family without asking them what they feel? – corruption takes place.
    If people turn out to vote, as they must be allowed to do. With their names on a registered list of voters. Which is checked for each person individually by a couple of volunteers. Corruption stops.
    If people cannot be bothered or if they try to fiddle the process, it is immediately obvious.
    Keep It Simple Stupid! Works every time!

  3. Cupper

    Censor my comment because it shams your narrative?

  4. Mick

    Hmm. You mean the PR, in all its variants, which allowed the actual Nazi Party, BNP, FN and others to get a valuable toe-hold in parliaments, whether they stay or not?

    You mean the PR where, in Nick Berry’s own words, every loser wins? Where Gene Crackpot, of the Crackpot Party, with 8 votes, gets a seat because a winner’s score is deducted to fit that?

    The PR which has often proved to fox voters – unless their favourite unbiased and impartial newspapers are there to guide them? Where people wake up the day after to find the guy the picked as first choice may not actually be in the chair?

    People who call for alternative vote systems are childish, sulky, petulant losers. They are grizzly that their people never win, so need a rigged system for ‘representation.’

    Not even NICK GRIFFIN backed AV in the last Parliament. That’s how weird AV and PR fans are!

  5. Lee Mortimer

    I would only take issue with your subheading that RCV “scrap(s) first past the post.” What was approved in Maine would end spoiler outcomes but is very much a continuation of FPTP for that state’s legislative and congressional elections.

Comments are closed.