After reading the guest column offered by another resident of North Carolina, Lee Mortimer (Sun Journal, Oct. 30), I decided to offer a counterpoint.

On Nov. 8, Maine’s voters have the opportunity to adopt ranked-choice voting, which is Question 5 on the ballot. Whether Maine should use RCV is up to the voters. What I can say from experience is that Maine election officials would certainly be able to run RCV elections well and efficiently.

From 1993 to 2013, I was executive director of the North Carolina state Board of Elections. I sought to have elections be as efficient, trustworthy and participatory as possible. When the state legislature established opportunities for pilot uses of RCV, we helped two cities use it in 2007 and 2009. We also ran four judicial vacancy elections with RCV, including one statewide election. Our analysts concluded RCV worked as intended, and exit surveys conducted by North Carolina State University found that voters, by large percentages, preferred it to the former system.

I am now part of a group of election administration experts from across the country that is examining how best to run RCV elections. We work closely with usability experts, equipment vendors, election officials, local clerks and audit specialists.

For voters, RCV is easy to use. Starting in 2018, each voter would rank candidates in up to five contests: elections for governor, U.S. Senator, U.S. House, state senate and state house.

All Maine communities use paper ballots, where voters fill in ovals. With RCV, voters fill in the oval by their first choice, the oval by their second choice and so on. When Maine voters in Portland first used RCV to elect their mayor in 2011, turnout was significantly higher than projected and 94 percent of voters thought that ranked-choice ballots were easy to use.

In competitive RCV races, voters typically choose to rank at least three candidates — knowing that second and lower choices will only count if their first choice has already been defeated.

As indicated in the Fiscal Impact Statement for Question 5, the Secretary of State’s office has a well thought-out plan to perform the ranked-choice counting rounds if and when they are needed to reach a majority winner, should voters approve of Question 5.

As someone who has administered several actual runoff elections for statewide offices where turnout plunged to below 10 percent, I can attest to how much easier it will be for Maine to run RCV elections this way than to hold an entire second election — not to mention how much less expensive RCV is for taxpayers and less burdensome to voters.

If Mainers want greater opportunities to vote their preferences and more winners to have majority support, Question 5 is a sensible — and entirely workable — solution.

Gary Bartlett, Goldsboro, North Carolina


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