The presence of ranked choice voting on the ballot in Maine is a new wrinkle in a state famous for its own Yankee brand of political independence, and could play a role in deciding the presidency.
Voters in the state approved the adoption of ranked choice voting in a 2016 referendum drive. After withstanding numerous legal challenges, the method appears on ballots in a presidential race for the first time in U.S. history this fall.
Maine’s vote this year is a test case for whether the system can work elsewhere, said Craig Burnett, a Hofstra University political science professor and ranked choice voting expert.
“This is nice for those proponents to see it in action and say look at the results — it worked,” Burnett said. “Or it didn’t, depending on what your perspective is.”
The potentially lengthy process of counting ranked ballots also has prognosticators wondering if the election could come down to Maine’s four electoral votes. It’s a longshot, and it would take a very close election, but it’s within the realm of possibility, Burnett said.