Election News You May Have Missed, Part 2

Last week, Maine voters approved ranked choice voting as a means of choosing the governor and state and federal legislators:

Maine residents have approved a ballot question that will allow voters to rank their choice of candidates. 

Under the election overhaul, ballots are counted at the state level in multiple rounds. Last place candidates are eliminated until a candidate wins by a majority. . . . 

Proponents of ranked-choice voting say it will prevent a governor from being elected with less than 50 percent of the votes. That was the scenario when Gov. Paul LePage was elected in 2010 and re-elected in 2014. 

Ranked-choice voting is sometimes also called "instant runoff."

Voters in Oregon elected the first Republican to statewide office in 14 years, Dennis Richardson as Secretary of State:

In the state of Oregon, the secretary of state is charged with auditing public accounts, managing elections, and administering public records. It's a glorified administrative role . . . . 

Throughout the campaign, [Brad] Avakian highlighted [Dennis] Richardson's anti-abortion stance while highlighting his own environmentalism and pro-choice bona fides. Richardson, meanwhile, while undeniably a social conservative, ran as basically a numbers guy. . . . In an overwhelmingly Democratic state, Avakian managed to lose to Republican Dennis Richardson. Indeed, Richardson's victory was the first time a Republican had won a statewide office in Oregon for fourteen years. (Hillary Clinton carried the state by ten percentage points, by the way.) 

Avakian's defeat is synecdoche for everything the Democrats did wrong this year. He ran, basically, the Lena Dunham race: Stress social issues (truly irrelevant in a race like Oregon secretary of state) and ignore what mattered to voters. Dennis Richardson stressed that he would be a competent auditor; Avakian noted that the Sierra Club liked him. Donald Trump said he would bring jobs back to the industrial Midwest; Hillary Clinton focused on the fact that Trump was rude about a Miss Universe candidate two decades ago. In both cases, we see how that worked out for the Democrats.

While indicative of the larger 2016 election cycle, the Secretary of State's race in Oregon demonstrates what voters consider important for an election administrator: understanding of the job's responsibilities and limits, competence, and valuing the integrity of elections.  Efforts to turn election administration into a vehicle for progressive social change rightly failed in Oregon last week.