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Politics

Conflicting Votes Cloud Future of Ranked-Choice Voting Measure

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Robert F. Bukaty
/
Associated Press/file
The Maine House, seen in this 2010 file photo, was in conflict Tuesday with the Senate on the future of the ranked-choice voting initiative.

The future of a voter-approved state election overhaul remains in flux following two conflicting votes in the Legislature on Tuesday.

Three Democrats joined the Republican majority in the Senate to scuttle the ranked-choice voting law before it’s implemented next year.

Democratic Sen. Bill Diamond, a former secretary of state, said allowing the law to stay in place sets up the possibility of having two elections systems — one for state races and another for congressional ones.

“This has nothing to do with whether you support ranked-choice voting or not. It’s the absolute practicality of trying to implement two systems at the same time,” he said.

The bipartisan Senate vote appeared to doom the election overhaul, but the Democratic-controlled House then voted to effectively allow the law to stay on the books until such time as a constitutional amendment is approved.

To date, the two-thirds support needed to send a constitutional amendment to voters has been lacking. And opponents of the law have been emboldened to repeal it after the Maine Supreme Judicial Court found a key provision unconstitutional.

But supporters of ranked-choice voting say the people approved the new system in November, and it’s up to lawmakers to either implement it, or offer the chance to change the constitution.

Additional votes will be taken this week.

This story was originally published on June 27, 2017 at 6:21 p.m. ET.