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Maine Supreme Court to Hear Ranked-Choice Voting Case

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court has accepted the Legislature’s request to explore the constitutionality of a dramatic election overhaul approved by voters in November.

The court released a schedule for written and oral arguments on Tuesday in response to a request by the Maine Senate to review several aspects of a ranked-choice voting.

Voters in November approved ranked-choice voting for congressional, legislative and gubernatorial races, making Maine the first state to adopt to swap its plurality election system for one in which voters rank candidates in order of preference.

Last week the Senate voted 24-10 to ask the court whether that system jibes with the Maine Constitution. Advocates for ranked-choice voting protested the vote, arguing that the new system is now law. But lawmakers countered that the court should review it before the state spends money to implement ranked-choice voting and to avoid future court battles.

Briefs are due by March 3 and responses to initial briefs by March 17. Oral arguments are scheduled for April 13.

Over 52 percent of Maine voters approved of the change in November.

In a written statement, Republican Senate President Michael Thibodeau, thanked the court of responding quickly to the senate’s request.

“Lawmakers desperately need guidance from the court as we move
forward crafting public policy in order to prevent uncertainty in the outcome
of our future elections,” he said.