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Many voters who cast their ballots in the just-completed partisan primary election are feeling dissatisfied, and that they will be stuck voting for the lesser of two evils in November.  Independent candidate for governor Dr. Maggie Turnbull wants to change that, starting with Wisconsin’s ballot system.

Turnbull said the solution is ranked choice voting, a system used successfully in Maine during a June statewide election. In it, voters simply rank the candidates, from favorite to least favorite.  If a voter’s top choice doesn’t get a majority of the votes, then his or her vote goes their second choice, and so on until someone has a majority popular vote.  “Ranked choice voting brings people together, instead of dividing them,” Turnbull said. “It allows people to vote for the candidate they really like, encourages candidates to stand up for the middle ground, and allows Independent and third party candidates to be taken seriously.”

Turnbull, an astrobiologist with the campaign slogan “Let Wisconsin Shine,” claims that this voting system solves many problems at once.  “Currently on the Wisconsin ballot we can only vote for one candidate, and this gives rise to a fearful mentality where we feel we must vote for the party insider with the most resources, not the candidate we like the best,” Turnbull said. “Not only is this bad decision-making, but it literally generates hatred and social breakdown for no good reason.”

Voters in Maine moved to ranked choice voting this year, largely in a rebuttal to term-limited Gov. Paul LaPage, who was twice elected without majority support. Though Maine is the first state to try the method, municipalities are gradually adopting it. San Francisco used the method for the mayor’s race in 2018 and New York City is considering putting the measure on the ballot.

“Maine had to fight hard against their own representatives to make it happen this year, and that is why we have a very long road ahead of us in Wisconsin,” Turnbull said. “We are stuck in a two party stranglehold where each party delivers only minimal temporary victories, while making sure their largest donors continually benefit at our expense.”

But Turnbull added that while changing the system in Wisconsin will be tough, there will never be a better  year to break it. “We always say that the next four years are all that matters.  But it’s time for us to stop voting for an unstable system that creates so much hostility.  The longer we wait, the harder it will become to repair the damage done by politicians that are installed by those who have the most money,” Turnbull said. “However, an independent governor can stop this, because neither party can overcome her veto. An independent governor could force this issue and change the way we vote forever.  The stars are aligned.”

Turnbull has been campaigning at events and festivals across the Badger State, and she said that while enthusiasm has been infectious, some are questioning whether a truly independent candidate can be elected in a state torn by party politics.

“We want to reach people across the political spectrum,” Turnbull said. “We are the meeting ground for the environment and education and science vote as well as the rural/small municipality, fishing and hunting, property rights, reasonable gun rights and fiscally responsible vote.”

Although she now lives in Madison, Turnbull often returns to the northwoods, enjoying hunting, fishing, skiing, kayaking and a variety of other outdoor pursuits.

While she made her home base in Antigo, she helped develop the farm market and spearheaded a project tapping municipal maple trees. She also served as Ninth Ward alderman from 2009 to 2013. She now manages a large nationwide team of scientists to design and build spacecraft as part of NASA’s mission to search for planets and life beyond the Solar System.

Originally hailing from West Allis, the candidate is a 1993 Antigo High School graduate. She continued her studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of Arizona and Carnegie Institution of Washington, and designs NASA missions to search for planets and life beyond Earth.

She has received numerous honors, including being named Antigo High School Alumnus of the Year in 2007 and being cited as a “Genius” by CNN for her work cataloging stars most likely to develop planets that could support life and intelligent civilizations.

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