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Senate Ties on Bill to Let Voters Amend Constitution to Allow Ranked-Choice Voting

The State Senate tied 17-17 on a proposal to send a constitutional amendment to the voters to allow ranked-choice voting for all elections in Maine, and then sent the bill to the House for its consideration.

Sen. Garrett Mason, a Republican from Lisbon Falls, urged the Senate to reject the measure.

“I believe the ought not to pass report is the only way to go. I believe if we did it any other way it would result in confusion at the ballot box. I also believe in the process,” he said.

He said only the Legislature can initiate a constitutional change.

Supporters argued that voters had indicated they want ranked-choice by their vote last fall, and they should have the chance to vote on an amendment.

“Four-hundred thousand of our fellow citizens made a choice — and that choice had flaws, and this is the way to fix those flaws. And we’re not going to give them the right?” said Democratic Sen. Mike Carpenter of Houlton.

The Senate did not take up another bill that would repeal those sections of the law allowing ranked-choice voting in primaries and for federal offices. The State Supreme Court did not advise that those were in violation of the state constitution.

Both proposals face further votes.

Journalist Mal Leary spearheads Maine Public's news coverage of politics and government and is based at the State House.