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Bristol Area Lions Hear Educational Presentation on Ranked Choice Voting 05/18/2016

Posted by DS in meetings, speakers.
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Lion John Janell (left) thanks Finn Melanson, Education Coordinator, FairVote Maine for his informative presentation.

At their meeting on May 2, the Bristol Area Lions, three guests and their speaker Finn Melanson enjoyed pulled pork sandwiches with cole slaw, macaroni and cheese, and a salad served by caterer Steve Hawks of the Hawks House Inn in Walpole.

Melanson has attended the University of Mass. and earned a bachelor’s degree in political science with a concentration in voting behavior, voting systems and third party political movements. After a year of working in Maine politics in January he began working with the League of Women Voters of Maine and FairVote Maine.

These two organizations are non-partisan, non-profit organizations dedicated to improving democracy through public education on, among other things, ranked choice voting. Ranked choice voting will be a referendum question on our November ballot.

Melanson’s PowerPoint presentation began by defining a majority winner, a plurality winner, vote-splitting, and strategic voting. Our present system is based on a plurality winner or a ‘winner-take-all” election. This is not the only way to vote. Alternative voting systems include runoff voting, top two primaries, approval voting and ranked choice voting.

A ranked choice voting sample ballot was shown with three candidates listed as A,B, and C. with three columns headed 1st choice, 2nd choice and 3rd choice each with a circle to be filled in next to the candidates name. When the first choice votes were tallied A had 40%, B 35% and C 25% of the votes. 
Since C has the fewest first choice is eliminated.

An instant runoff was done by taking C’s second choice votes and posting the selections to A and B. This resulted in candidate A receiving 5% more votes for 45% and B 20% more votes for 55%. We now have a candidate with more than 50% of the vote or a majority winner.

Ranked choice voting is used in Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, Malta, Sri Lanka and India. Closer to home it is used to elect a mayor in Portland and Lewiston as well as other cities in the United States. It is used in the public and private sectors by the Academy of Motions Pictures Arts & Sciences, American Bar Association, Federal Reserve, International Olympic Committee, National Hockey League and over 50 colleges and universities. If the Maine referendum passes it would not take effect until 2018.

The next meeting on Monday, June 6, will be a tour of the Granite Hill Quarry in New Harbor followed by dinner at the Willing Workers Hall. To make a dinner reservation for that meeting, please call Herb Watson at 677-6191. To learn more about the Bristol Area Lions, serving Bristol and South Bristol call Walt Johansson at 677-2584.

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