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Maine Secretary Of State Will Appeal Ruling On Ranked-Choice Voting Citizen Initiative

Robert F. Bukaty
AP Images
Supporters of an efforts to repeal ranked-choice voting carry boxes of signed petitions into the Cross Building, Monday, June 15, 2020, in Augusta, Maine.

Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap says he will appeal a ruling on a ranked-choice voting citizen initiative to the Maine Supreme Court. The case will determine whether RCV will be used in the upcoming presidential election.

Dunlap believes that Superior Justice Thomas McKeon was wrong in his interpretation of the state’s requirement that petition circulators be registered voters. Dunlap says McKeon concluded that they need only to be registered at the time they submit the signatures.

“The judge’s ruling in the Superior Court said ‘well they were registered when they turned in their petitions’. And that’s, you know, we need some guidance on that,” Dunlap says. “That said, we are up against the clock.”

The initiative, backed by Republicans, would repeal the law that allows the use of ranked-choice voting in the presidential election. If the measure is on the ballot, RCV would not be used in November.

Dunlap says his office must design and prepare 350 different ballots by September 19.

“It would cost us about a quarter-million dollars to print an additional second set of ballots, and to recycle them would be a terrible waste of money,” says Dunlap. “Plus the amount of time it takes to do that would really double our workload, and it still would go a long ways to having us miss critical federal deadlines.”

Dunlap says his office is developing ballot layout options but will wait for a final court ruling before it starts to print them.

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