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Bills Would Bring Big Changes To Maine's Presidential Election Process

Robert F. Bukaty
Associated Press
Ballots are recounted in Maine's 2nd Congressional District, Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018, in Augusta, Maine.

Two big changes could shake up Maine's election process in the 2020 presidential race, following key votes by the Democratic-controlled Legislature. One proposal approved by the House and Senate - and now funded by the Legislature's budget committee - would swap Maine's caucus system for a presidential primary.

The change stems from frustration during the 2016 caucuses, resulting in long lines and confusion for Democratic and Republican voters.

A second bill would institute Maine's landmark ranked-choice voting system in both presidential primaries and the general election.

The system is already in place for Maine congressional contests and allows voters to rank the candidates - rankings that are then used to calculate a majority winner.

Using ranked-choice could also alleviate concerns about a new rule adopted by the Democratic National Committee that bars delegates from being awarded to candidates receiving less than 15 percent of the vote - a high likelihood in a traditional plurality election with a current field of two dozen Democratic presidential candidates.

The two proposals received votes largely along party lines in the House and Senate and will need additional votes before going to Democratic Gov. Janet Mills, who will have 10 days to sign, veto or allow the proposals to become law without her signature.