Tiffany Bond is a practicing family law attorney and mediator who made Maine her home 8 years ago, as she finished her law degree at UMaine. She ran in Maine’s 2nd Congressional race last year, which gave Maine’s new ranked-choice voting (RCV) a workout. That same race thrust Tiffany into the center of a fascinating lawsuit about the constitutionality of ranked-choice voting in Maine. Tiffany is also a hard-working mom of 2 boys, and we were honored to talk to her about her campaign style, the battle for egalitarian press coverage, drowning in misogyny, and the possibility of running against Susan Collins.
One of the most fascinating aspects of Tiffany’s campaign was her devout insistence to not accept campaign donations from outside sources. This Independent candidate said it was time for Maine to prove party affiliation and big money just don’t matter anymore. But did it? Rep. Bruce Poliquin alone raised nearly $3 million dollars ahead of the midterms. Rep. Jared Golden funded massive ad campaigns in the state well ahead of the midterm elections.
“Given the amount of commercials that are on TV right now, people will probably really like me by the end of October,” Bond said. Without ads, Bond turned to a social media campaign called #MaineRaising in the hopes people willing to donate to her campaign would spend money at local businesses instead. You can support that effort, and learn more about Tiffany as she weighs challenging Susan Collins in the general election at http://bond4.me/.
Our podcast with Tiffany was amazing! Be sure to tune in to our Soundcloud to listen to the episode: https://soundcloud.com/backwards-in-high-heels. Tiffany was a wealth of information and knowledge.
During our interview with Tiffany, there was one topic that we were not able to cover in much detail – the Maine (RCV) lawsuit and her involvement. Tiffany has agreed to come back on the show and dedicate the entire hour on this topic alone, but I wanted to do a piece on this subject in the meantime because I discovered something new, and I’m not convinced many people know about this voting system. You can check which states have RCV here on Fairvote.com https://www.fairvote.org/where_is_ranked_choice_voting_used.
Under Maine’s voting system, voters had the ability to rank their candidate choices as first, second, third, etc, on the ballot. From there, first choices are then tallied up.
If none of the candidates get at least 50% or more in votes, then the last ranked candidate is dropped from the ballot, and the second-ranked candidates’ votes are then added into the totals of the candidates that remain. If after the merge, there still is not a candidate with 50% or more, then the procedure is repeated until there is.
Each stage is reported so that results can be tracked, and leading candidates are well known throughout the process. The ultimate end game is for the winner to have the support of at least half of the voters. Pretty interesting concept! Does Maine have it right? Can this be good for democracy as a wide-spread voting system? This particular voting system could have been implemented in at least six other House races in the midterms, aside from Tiffany’s. One important fact is that yes, it would have benefited Republicans, but it would have equally benefited Democrats, but the bottom line is that it would have given midterm voters an opportunity to express their personal views without having to worry about strategy. If their first choice wasn’t elected, there is a strong chance their second choice would have been. This process by no means diminishes the chances of the second choice or even the third.
Maine is not the only jurisdiction in America to use ranked-choice voting. It is just the first where it has mattered in a federal election. We should follow its example. There is plenty of time to carry this idea to the 2020 election and give all of us a system less prone to vicious attacks and more guaranteed to select candidates supported by at least a majority in every state.
Just think of how RCV would affect not only the outcome of elections but how the candidates run their campaigns!
Candidates in a ranked-choice system have a real interest in playing nice. If they are unsure about whether they’ll win on the first ballot, they have a strong incentive not to denigrate or insult the candidates whose second-rank votes they might want. A clear front-runner need not behave, but everyone else will. Negative advertising can thus be costly for all except a clear front-runner — which can importantly change how campaigns proceed.
Both features of RCV are crucially relevant to how we elect our president. Following Maine, critical states should adopt the system before the next election — for the president at least.
New Hampshire especially should adopt it. On the Democratic side, there could be a dozen candidates vying to be the Democratic nominee. That means a candidate could “win” that primary with just a tiny fraction of the overall vote. Yet with RCV, voters could rank their choices, and the system would then determine which candidates have significant support among primary voters.
First round votes would be reported as well, so we’d have a clear sense of initial ranking. And candidates would be disciplined not to denigrate at least the candidates whose votes they aspire ultimately to win. The party would leave the primary not bruised but emboldened. And the ultimate nominee would not have a year of vicious attacks gifted to his or her opponent.
We will dive more into this topic and the federal lawsuit that took place in the next couple of weeks. This topic is surely one that is going to make a comeback, and at least 15 states across the country have bucked the electoral college in favor of the popular vote.
Renee’ s Column, “Dem Words: Wednesday Words of Wisdom”, breaks down everyday issues from the perspective of the black community.
Her hope is that through her words, she can get more people in her community and across America to become consistently involved in our democracy and become educated and re-informed about how politics does, in fact, affect our every day lives.
Everyone of every race, religion, gender, and creed are encouraged to read this blog each Wednesday and increase your awareness of the African American experience. This is for everyone….so we never have to worry about history repeating itself! Let’s say enough is enough and let’s stay engaged, and keep those around us engaged as well!
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