"In June, Maine used ranked-choice voting, which opens up the system to third parties and independents.

Democracy advocates recently celebrated a victory in Maine, where voters used ranked-choice voting in their statewide primaries—the first state ever to do so. In that election, voters also approved a referendum to keep the ranked-choice system for future elections. They will use it this November in the elections for U.S. Senate and U.S. House.

Advocates say this method of voting opens up the system to third parties and independents, and avoids the so-called “spoiler” effect of candidates who run outside of the two major parties. They say it also often introduces greater civility into the campaign.

In ranked-choice voting (sometimes called instant-runoff voting), people vote not only for their first-choice candidate, but also rank their preferences for other candidates running for the same office. When votes are counted, if a candidate earns more than half of the first-choice rankings, then you have a winner, just like any other election. If not, then the last-place finisher is eliminated, and those votes are redistributed to those voters’ second-choice preferences. This process continues until one candidate obtains a majority."

The State That Upended Electoral Politics With a New Kind of Voting — by Fran Korten