Opinion

Area representative urges yes vote on Question 1 for Ranked Choice Voting

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I have proudly served in the Maine House of Representatives for the last four years. Every day I have known that I am there as your representative. As an independent, I understand that most people don’t care whether the ideas come from Democrats or Republicans as long as those ideas can make lives better for people without breaking their wallets.

We have an opportunity in June for Ranked Choice Voting (RCV). It is strange that we are again voting on this issue which has already been approved by the voters in 2016 and then again in 2018 with a people’s veto. The legislature voted in 2017 to ignore the will of the people and tried to kill it. What followed was nothing short of amazing. In the dead of winter, one of the coldest in recent memory, volunteers collected 80,000 signatures earlier this year to put it back on the ballot in June.

This is one of the many reforms to elect leaders who will place people ahead of politics. The people have said what they wanted RCV, and we as a legislature need to listen to the people who put us in office. It’s disingenuous to say that the voters know enough to put us in office, but they don’t know enough when it comes to voting for or against a referendum. The voters have told us what to do –- and we as their representatives need to respect that. The politicians who feel they know better than the voters may soon find themselves feeling the backlash at the ballot box. At the end of the day, it’s the will of the people — it’s their democracy –- those of us who are elected serve at their pleasure, and we are their representatives. They expect us to listen.

RCV isn’t confusing at all. If you go into Spencer Bakery & Café and they are out of blueberry muffins you don’t walk out you chose the next thing you want. That’s really what Ranked Choice Voting is all about — not allowing only one or two items on the menu. You get to rank your choices 1,2,3 and so on. If your first choice is eliminated because there aren’t enough votes your second choice is still counted. It’s easy, and it gives you a say through your second choice in your democracy.

And the final reason I support RCV is to get rid of the spoiler issue.

This is useful, robust reform that eliminates the spoiler issue. We usually have more than two party candidates in a given race, but someone always ends up getting labeled a spoiler.

There is no such thing as a spoiler. Isn’t it time we just voted for whoever will do the best job and not worry about strategic voting. How many times have you heard people say –- I would like to vote for so and so, but that person may be the spoiler. We need people to feel free to vote their conscience not their fears.

At the end of the day, RCV is good public policy, and it has been supported by the voters not once but twice. We need to listen and vote yes on Question 1 in June.

Signed, Rep. Norman Higgins, I-Dover-Foxcroft, Common Sense Independent

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