The Coastal Packet: Ranked choice voting status

Wednesday, May 24

Ranked choice voting status

Maine Clean Elections - The court’s opinion is just that, not a ruling, but an opinion. RCV is still the law of the land, but the court has now made it clear that if an actual RCV challenge came forward, they believe it would be struck down. The risk of moving forward with the RCV law for state offices may throw some of the results of the 2018 elections into question. In their opinion, the court lays out how the legislature could rectify the situation by either: 1) advancing a state constitutional amendment or 2) repealing the portion of the law that conflicts with their opinion.

State Senator Cathy Breen (D – Falmouth) has indicated that she will introduce a state constitutional amendment. To advance this resolve at this point in the session, the Legislative Council, the governing group of House and Senate party leaders, would need to grant the bill special permission to move forward. From there, the House and Senate would need to pass the measure by a 2/3 vote in both chambers before it is sent to referendum in November, where it would require a majority vote at the polls. There appears to be very little support among Republican leaders or rank-and-file members for RCV, making it unlikely that Sen. Breen’s bill will make it through Legislative Council, let alone gain the necessary votes on the House or Senate floor.

With an amendment strategy all but doomed, it seems likely there will be efforts to repeal all or part of the RCV law during the final few weeks of legislative session. RCV advocates, including MCCE, The Committee for Ranked Choice Voting, the League of Women Voters of Maine, and FairVote, are committed to preserving as much of the law that voters passed as possible. We firmly believe that those portions of the law not affected by the court ruling should still stand, most notably those pertaining to federal races.

Other municipalities that have RCV, including Portland (ME), have some races run under RCV, while others follow the “pick one” method of voting. In Portland and many other cities, voters and election administrators have been able to navigate and successfully hold elections in this manner. It’s important lawmakers in Augusta hear from the voters ASAP – that this law passed by the second highest vote total in the history of Maine ballot initiatives and we voters want to retain as much of the law as possible. We urge our senators and representatives to resist repealing the people’s will wholesale.

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