Abdikhadar Shire

Tobin Williamson

On Tuesday, Dec. 12, Lewiston voters will go to the polls to vote in the runoff election for the mayoral race.

This runoff will feature lower turnout than November, a drawn-out election season, and the risk of possible inclement winter weather.

We don’t have to run our elections like this. Lewiston should adopt ranked-choice voting for the mayor and City Council, so voters can elect majority winners when they go to the polls in November.

Ranked-choice voting in our elections will reduce divisiveness, and make our elections more representative of Lewiston. Ranked choice voting ensures that candidates on the campaign trail will have to appeal to as many voters as possible, to win not just first choices but second or third choices. It will reduce personal attacks and vilification of differing views that has unfortunately become more common in our politics in recent years.

Ranked-choice voting will also help elevate more diverse voices. Studies show that ranked-choice voting can help elevate women and people of color seeking office. Implementing this system here in Lewiston will guarantee that our elected officials look more like our diverse city.

More voters will have their voices heard in Lewiston’s elections with ranked-choice voting. In 2017, the last time a runoff was used, 3,000 fewer voters turned up for the December runoff than in November. Across the country, runoff elections usually result in lower turnout and increased costs. In Lewiston, runoffs are held as winter approaches — and at the beginning of the holiday season.


And voters are weary of the never-ending campaigns, so lower turnout is not surprising. With ranked-choice voting, a greater number of voters can elect our mayor and City Council, using a system that ensures we have a true majority winner in November. One member of the most recent charter review committee stated, in support of ranked-choice voting, that “reducing the number of times we ask our residents to come out to vote in elections is important since we have historically low turnout in the runoff elections we have seen in recent years.”

Ranked-choice voting has been successfully implemented in Portland and Westbrook for local elections. Since its implementation in Portland, the city has elected an increasingly diverse council featuring many more women and people of color in public office. In Lewiston, respected voices have also called for an end to runoffs.

As a new set of elected officials take office, it is time to begin the work to implement ranked-choice voting before we elect our local officials again. After another inevitably lower turnout December runoff, with a dragged-out election season, it’s time for a change.

Lewiston deserves better in how we elect our public officials. We can reduce divisiveness, increase diversity, and elect majority winners in November with ranked-choice voting.

Let’s get started and make this happen.

Adikhadar Shire and Tobin C. Williamson are board members from the League of Women Voters of Maine and Lewiston residents.

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