This measure passed.

The gist

Ever wanted a third party or independent candidate to win an election? If this referendum passes, it would be more possible.

Ballot question

“Do you want to allow voters to rank their choices of candidates in elections for U.S. Senate, Congress, Governor, State Senate, and State Representative, and to have ballots counted at the state level in multiple rounds in which last-place candidates are eliminated until a candidate wins by majority?”1

Yes means No means
I am in favor of ranked-choice voting. I want to keep elections the way they are.

Tell me more

How ranked-choice voting works:

  1. Voters rank all of the candidates on the ballot.
  2. The voters’ first choices are tallied.
  3. The last place candidate is removed from all ballots.
  4. The ballots are tallied again, but those voters whose first choice was the removed candidate will have their second choice counted.
  5. Rinse and repeat until there are only two candidates left.
  6. The candidate with the highest count in the last round wins the election.
    The referendum calls for ranked-choice voting to be used in elections for U.S. senators, U.S. representatives, the governor, state senators, and state representatives starting January 1, 2018.

Follow the money

2017-18 Costs: $837,2701
2018-19 Costs: $714,3881

Note: The Maine Office of Fiscal and Program Review fiscal statement says that most of the expenditures are ongoing1, but some of them (i.e. updating ballot machines) are likely one-time. The Maine State Treasurer, Terry Hayes cited $500,000 as the cost in an Op-Ed, but it isn’t clear where that number came from or whether it’s the startup costs or ongoing costs.2

The money will be used to:

  • Print additional ballot pages
  • Update ballot tabulating machines
  • Contract 2 limited-period Special Deputy positions to oversee the process
  • Pay overtime and fuel costs to secure and return election ballots.

The money will be coming from:

  • General Fund appropriation
  • Highway Fund allocation


The primary arguments for this referendum are:

  • It would support third party and independent candidates
  • It allows voters to vote for their preferred candidate without fear of the spoiler effect
  • It could reduce negative attack ads
  • It is less costly than runoff elections


The primary arguments against this referendum are:

  • It costs more money than the current system
  • It takes more time to count ballots
  • Voters could be confused by a more complex ballot
  • It’s unconstitutional, which could lead to court costs
  • Some believe it doesn’t reflect the will of the voters

Further reading

Full Text
Ballotpedia Article
League of Women Voters Study on Ranked-Choice Voting
Maine PBN Maine Calling Debate: Audio (53:59) | Video (51:38)


  1. Dunlop, M. Maine Citizen’s Guide to the Referendum Election. Accessed October 7, 2016.  2 3 4

  2. Hayes, T., Ranked Choice restores majority rule. Sun Journal, September 25, 2016. Accessed October 7, 2016