A federal judge has denied a request by the Maine Republican Party to block the use of ranked-choice voting in its June 12 primary election.
The ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Jon Levy means that all voters registered with one of the state-recognized political parties will use the new ranked-choice system in June.
Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap says election officials are not shocked by Levy’s decision.
“The primary, even though it’s a party nomination process, is government by state law and it seemed clear that the judge understood the stakes of allowing a party to pick and choose which election laws they follow,” he says.
The Maine GOP had argued that the system infringed on its First Amendment rights of free association because the system can change outcomes.
But in his 20-page ruling, Levy says that state election officials can conduct elections as prescribed by law so long as those laws don’t limit participation of primary voters. Additionally, Levy noted that while Republicans have control over their party elections, they’re using the state and its resources to administer and conduct the election.
“Accordingly, a political party’s control over its primaries is far from unbounded,” Levy wrote. “Instead, when a party avails itself of a state-administered election, it compromises some of its self-governance in exchange for access to the state apparatus.”