How does ranking work in Maine

Maine will be the first state to vote for the next president in the US election on November 3rd. The Supreme Court of the state declared several hundred signatures for a referendum against the new electoral system to be invalid, thus paving the way for the ranking.

After years of struggle to implement a new electoral system in Maine, the state's Supreme Court has now cleared the way for a presidential election by ranked-choice voting. The Republican Party wanted to use a referendum, the so-called “People’s Veto”, to prevent Maine from voting on the next US president this year using the new electoral system.

However, the party made mistakes in collecting signatures, which is why their request was not allowed. A lawsuit against this decision has now failed before the highest court in Maine. This will decide the winner of the state in the presidential election and the next US Senator from Maine by ranking.

Fairer elections thanks to ranking?

Ranked choice voting is not a new phenomenon. The ranking order, often also called election with integrated runoff, is used in presidential elections in Ireland and, since 1918, in lower house elections in Australia. Instead of ticking their preferred candidate, ranked-choice voting stipulates that the voters indicate the ranking of their preferred candidates - that is, in addition to the first, a second, third and fourth choice.

If a candidate does not receive a majority in the first count, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated and his votes are then distributed according to the order of precedence. This process continues until a candidate has received an absolute majority of the votes and thus has won the election.

The priority election is intended to ensure that only candidates win an election who can unite a majority of the population behind them. This is to prevent the so-called spoiler effect, in which a third or fourth candidate ensures that no one receives an absolute majority.

Maine goes other ways

When voting on the presidency, the new electoral system could determine which candidate in the east coast state receives electoral college votes. In Maine, alongside Joe Biden and Donald Trump, candidates from the Greens, the Libertarian Party and the Alliance Party are on the ballot.

If neither Donald Trump nor Joe Biden have an absolute majority in the first count, the ballot papers for further counting rounds will be brought to the capital Augusta. Thus, the announcement of the final election results could be delayed by about a week.

Maine has had experience with alternative voting rules. Since 1972, the state no longer assigns all of its electoral college votes to the winner, but makes the distribution dependent on the results in the congressional constituencies. Four years ago, Hillary Clinton received three votes and Donald Trump one. Only Nebraska also follows this model. All other states rely on the winner-takes-all principle, which awards all votes to the candidate who has won the state.