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New poll says ranked-choice voting is deeply unpopular

Left: Governor Janet Mills. Right: President Donald J. Trump.

Asbury Park, NJ – A new poll from the national polling firm Rasmussen Reports says that only 31% of likely U.S. voters support ranked-choice voting, the new experimental voting system being used in Maine, some cities, and being pushed by political activists in some parts of the nation.

Many more Americans, 48% of likely U.S. voters surveyed, said they oppose the more complex voting system. 21% were not sure.

The poll surveyed 1,000 likely U.S. voters nationally from November 4-5. The poll question specifically mentioned Maine.

“A number of cities and the state of Maine now have what is called ranked-choice voting in which voters choose not just their first choice but who their second choice is in case the first one doesn’t win. The second-choice votes help pick a winner if no candidate earns more than 50% of the vote. Do you favor or oppose ranked-choice voting in your local elections?”

Maine held its first ranked-choice voting elections for Congress and United States Senate in 2018 with one controversial outcome. Jared Golden, who lost the traditional election, was then declared the winner weeks later despite losing on election night and never receiving a majority of the votes cast in the election.

On Tuesday night, the city of Portland, Maine used the method in the city’s Mayoral election. The use of RCV resulted in more than 5,000 voters seeing their ballots discarded in the final round of voting and liberal firebrand Mayor Ethan Strimling being turned out of office.

At the same time Portland, Maine was using ranked-choice voting, voters in New York City were voting to implement the system in local elections.

On October 13th, California Governor Gavin Newsom vetoed a bill that would have expanded ranked-choice voting to more cities and towns in his state. In his veto message, Newsom said he was “concerned that it has often led to voter confusion, and that the promise that ranked choice voting leads to greater democracy is not necessarily fulfilled.”

In the 2019 Maine Legislature’s special session, Democrats pushed through a bill to apply ranked-choice voting to the Presidential primary and general election. Some saw that as an attempt to influence Maine’s Presidential election following President Donald Trump winning an electoral college vote in Maine in 2016.

Governor Janet Mills waited a full ten days before announcing she would let the bill go into law without her signature. Mills’ delay prevented the law from going into effect in time for the 2020 primary election.

The system has been sold by supporters as a way to force elections to be more positive and cut down on negative ads, but so far in Maine, negative advertising has only increased, contradicting claims by supporters.

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