As the country grapples with how to increase voter confidence, participation and choice in U.S. elections, a new analysis of ranked choice voting (RCV) in Maine by the R Street Institute provides critical insights into implementing these and similar reforms across the country. In particular, the study dispels myths that RCV is too complicated for voters and that confusion prevents voters from accurately expressing their preferences on the ballot.

Following implementation in the 2018 primary election in the state, Maine was the first jurisdiction to establish RCV for legislative and executive positions at a statewide level. That year’s congressional primary and general elections, followed by the 2020 Republican primary election, provided hard voting data on the success of RCV across multiple types of elections.

“Maine provides a robust example of how RCV plays out in a competitive political environment. The data shows that voters are smart and when you put an RCV ballot in front of them, they know what to do with it,” said Matthew Germer, elections fellow at the R Street Institute.

Key findings:

After three years of implementation and multiple elections, the data in Maine demonstrates that voters understand how to use the power of RCV to express their preferences in elections, and that the overwhelming majority of ballots cast in an RCV election accurately reflect those preferences.

Read the full study here.

Featured Publications