New voting system faces test in statewide primary in Maine

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Maine isn’t typically a national trendsetter, but it becomes one on Tuesday.

It’s the first state to adopt a system called ranked-choice voting, which makes its statewide debut in the primary election.

The system is used in 11 local jurisdictions across the country, including San Francisco and Maine’s largest city, Portland.

It works like this: Voters rank candidates from first to last on their ballot, and the election is over if one candidate wins a majority. If not, candidates are eliminated one by one and their remaining votes reallocated in what amounts to a mathematical game of survival.

The eventual winner might not be the candidate who had the most first-place votes, but rather the one who tallies the highest number of second- or even third-place votes.

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