To the Editor:
In her op-ed last week, “Maine Progressives: Rank Biden Second,” Livia Kunins-Berkowitz argued that since Maine offers ranked-choice voting, progressives should place as their first choice a more progressive candidate, such as Howie Hawkins of the Green Party. This is an ill-advised suggestion with potentially disastrous consequences.
Yes, in all likelihood, Hawkins will only receive a small share of first-choice votes, and those votes will be transferred to Biden. However, in the unlikely event that Hawkins wins a majority in Maine, he will be depriving Biden of four potentially crucial electoral votes—ones which may well provide the margin of victory this year*. Therefore, even though ranking Hawkins first and Biden second in Maine is not nearly as reckless as voting for Hawkins outright in a different state, doing so is reckless nonetheless.
If our presidential elections were decided by popular vote, I would have no issues with Mainers voting “according to their values.” For better or worse, though, it is the Electoral College which decides the election. Therefore if, like Kunins-Berkowitz, you are “committed to preventing the re-election of Donald Trump,” I urge you to rank Biden first.
*Indeed, discounting a single faithless elector from Washington, D.C., four electoral votes was George W. Bush’s margin of victory in 2000.
Theo Danzig ’22