Picture this: you're an Independent (humor us, for a moment). You're in the voting booth for the 2018 mid-term elections, reviewing the candidates for governor. You want to vote for the Independent candidate who speaks to your heart but are worried your vote will be lost on the Democrat and Republican who dominate our two-party system. If only you could vote for her as your first choice, then rank the other candidates by preference. But, WAIT, in Maine you might be able to do just that! Last week, supporters of ranked-choice voting (RCV) submitted over 80,000 signatures for a statewide referendum to get the RCV measure on the ballot in June. In November 2016, voters approved a ballot initiative to make Maine the first state to institute ranked-choice voting. After lawmakers delayed and then repealed the decision, local RCV supporters launched a "People's Veto" campaign to gather the signatures – often in sub-zero degree weather – to get the measure on the ballot. Talk about grassroots organizing! But, wait, what’s RCV again? Here’s a breakdown: under RCV, voters could rank multiple candidates in order of preference. Voters’ first choices are tallied in the first round. If nobody has a majority, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated and votes cast for that candidate automatically go to those voters’ second choice. This multi-round, instant-runoff process continues until a candidate has the majority of votes and is declared the winner. RCV supporters say this system would help improve candidate civility, increase voter turnout, and enhance representation as more Americans identify as Independents over the years (but would it stop candidates like Dan Helmer from producing the cheesiest campaign ad of all time? Sorry, Dan). Perhaps this is the beginning of the end of your “you must vote for the lesser of two evils” fight with your uncle at thanksgiving dinner. Only time will tell, so keep your eyes on this Maine referendum in June.

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