Ranked choice voting advocate says in Ireland they count millions of ballots by hand

Dorothy Scheeline, a representative of ranked choice voting advocate FairVote, has been at City Hall all day offering to answer questions about the process as posed by members of the public who have come and gone throughout the day.

In Ireland, where Scheeline said voters have used ranked choice voting for years, they count the ballots by hand. This election season, that means 1.7 million ballots, thumbed through one-by-one, over about a day and a half of work. That makes this process today in City Hall seem downright quick.

Scheeline conducted a one-day survey of Portland absentee voters last week, the results of which found Portlanders largely found the ranked choice ballot easy, among other things. Scheeline comes into the survey, as well as her one-week-long tour of Maine’s largest city, with a bias in favor of the new voting process.

She said she understands why city elections officials are being painstaking in their Day 2 analysis of the mayoral ballots, a process that is still ongoing and may push determination of a winner deep into the night.

“It’s good that they’re being so thorough,” Scheeline said. “This is the first time Portland has used ranked choice voting, and this is the first time they’ve elected a mayor, so they’re being very thorough.”

But Scheeline said the ballots themselves were found easy to fill out by voters, and that once the retabulation process begins later (read past blog posts about what that whole thing entails).

“This is taking a long time because of the level of review their giving it, but the actual retabulation process is actually very easy to understand,” Scheeline said.

Seth Koenig

About Seth Koenig

Seth has nearly a decade of professional journalism experience and writes about the greater Portland region.