ranked-choice voting

A Superior Court judge has ruled that state election officials should continue implementing Maine's landmark ranked-choice voting law for the June primary elections. The ruling, by Kennebec Superior Court Judge Michaela Murphy, is a victory for supporters of the voting system, who have been battling with lawmakers in the courts and in the Legislature ever since voters approved ranked-choice nearly two years ago. But the legal battle is far from over.

Maine Public staff/file

Another turn in the ongoing legal and political fight over ranked-choice voting Maine — Republicans in the Maine Senate on Monday passed a measure to block implementation of the system, which could be in place for the June primaries.

A Kennebec County Superior Court judge says she’ll soon rule on a request to require Maine election officials to use ranked-choice voting in the June primaries.

Judge Michaela Murphy said Friday that she’ll rule in the next few days.

Supporters of ranked-choice voting filed an injunction Thursday to force Secretary of State Matt Dunlap to implement the system after Maine’s top election official warned that a conflict in statutes could scuttle plans to use the system for the June 12 primary, barring a legislative fix.

Toby Talbot / Associated Press

It’s still unclear whether Maine voters will use a landmark ranked choice voting system in June that will purportedly make elections less acrimonious and less partisan. But the fate of the voting system could largely be determined by voters who identify as partisans, and less so by the state’s biggest voting bloc: independents.

Darron Cummings / Associated Press/file

Secretary of State Matt Dunlap says that he plans to use ranked-choice voting in the June primary elections after all, despite a conflict in election laws triggered by a people's veto petition.  Supporters say they believe the courts will clear up the matter quickly.

Darron Cummings / Associated Press/file

Secretary of State Matt Dunlap told legislative leaders Thursday that a provision in election laws that the people's veto petition blocked means ranked-choice voting cannot be used in the June primaries.

Susan Sharon / Maine Public/file

AUGUSTA, Maine - Former presidential candidate Jill Stein is joining a push to get Maine to enact ranked-choice voting.
 
The ranked-choice system is designed to let voters rank candidates on ballots. Proponents say it eliminates spoilers and ensures majority support for the winner.
 
Voters chose to enact ranked-choice voting in Maine with a 2016 referendum vote. But the system may never be put in place because of delays imposed by state lawmakers who say it conflicts with the Maine Constitution.
 

Supporters of ranked-choice voting were back at the polls on Tuesday, just one day after Maine’s secretary of state approved their petitions for a people’s veto of a law that delays implementation of ranked-choice voting until 2021.

“We have 90 days to collect 61,123 valid signatures. Upon submitting those signatures, we freeze the law in place as it was approved by voters in Nov. 2016,” says Kyle Bailey, manager of the campaign.

Late Monday night, the Legislature passed a bill that will delay and potentially repeal Maine’s landmark ranked-choice voting law, which voters passed last year. Supporters of ranked-choice voting are angry, and now they’re vowing to launch a people’s veto to overturn the Legislature’s delay-and-repeal bill.

Maine lawmakers are still struggling with how to deal with Maine’s landmark ranked choice voting law.

On Monday the Legislature’s Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee held a public hearing on a proposal that would implement parts of the voter-approved law unlikely to run afoul of Maine’s Constitution.

But some lawmakers want to delay implementation of the law, or repeal it altogether.

Cushing Samp volunteered for the ranked choice voting campaign last year. She said delaying or repealing ranked choice would be an affront to voters.

Supporters of Maine’s first-in-the-nation ranked-choice voting law say they could launch a people’s veto effort to keep the initiative alive.

While approved by voters last fall, the law ran into constitutional problems, and could be scuttled by the Legislature. The threat of a people’s veto adds another layer of complexity to a political stalemate.

Robert F. Bukaty / Associated Press/file

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.

A proposed constitutional amendment to correct concerns with ranked-choice voting has fallen well short of the two-thirds vote needed in the House to send it to the voters. Supporters fear that may mean repeal of the original voter-approved initiative passed last fall.

The initiative would implement ranked-choice voting for all Maine elections, but the State Supreme Court advised the legislature that part of it was unconstitutional.

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.

Independent U.S. Sen. Angus King of Maine Tuesday urged lawmakers send the question of ranked-choice voting back to the voters for a final decision.

King, a two-term governor, says he is very worried lawmakers may repeal the law voters passed at referendum last fall because part of the law is unconstitutional.

He says voters sent a signal with their vote last fall, and they should be given the opportunity to pass a constitutional amendment to allow ranked-choice voting in state elections.

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