Testimony: Allowing Political Parties to Opt Out of RCV for Primary Elections (LD 768)


Testimony in Support of LD 768: “An Act to Authorize State Political Parties to Opt Out of Ranked-choice Voting for Primary Elections”

Senator Hickman, Representative Supica, and the distinguished members of the Committee on Veterans and Legal Affairs, my name is Nick Murray and I serve as director of policy for Maine Policy Institute. We are a free market think tank, a nonpartisan, non-profit organization that advocates for individual liberty and economic freedom in Maine. Thank you for the opportunity to testify on LD 768.

This bill is an important one; it would make a small, but meaningful change in Maine’s election laws. LD 768 would simply allow political parties to use plurality voting for their nominating contests, instead of being forced to use Ranked-Choice Voting (RCV).

RCV has many inherent flaws. From the piles of exhausted ballots it leaves in its wake, to a generally more confusing electoral system, it can disenfranchise voters, and research shows that it does. As described in the University of Cincinnati Law Review, “RCV’s multiple elections treat some voters more favorably than others.” This can cause higher levels of voter fatigue, and as shown in research from Jason McDaniel at San Francisco State University, can lead to “increased disparities in turnout between groups who are more likely to vote and those who are less likely to vote.” 

The state should not force political parties, which are private institutions and make their own bylaws, to use a system which relies on exhausted ballots—those discarded from the final tally—in order to achieve its purported “majority” winner.

For a system which is sold by proponents as one that enhances democracy, voters should be extremely disappointed to learn that most often, winners in RCV races do not earn a majority of all votes cast. That only occurs in about 40% of single-winner RCV elections.

Please deem LD 768 “Ought To Pass” and return the right to run party primaries the way that the parties desire. Thank you for your time and consideration.