In November 2016, nearly 400,000 Maine voters supported the adoption of Ranked
Choice voting (RCV). The new law would affect 10 Maine elections, not including the Presidential election. In March 2017, Maine’s Supreme Court was asked for a non-binding opinion on the constitutionality related to the general elections for state offices. The Court suggested that Maine’s constitution needs to be amended to bring the new law into compliance for state general elections only.
To be clear, this means that the following elections are in no way affected by the court’s opinion.
- Federal primary elections for U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate (governed by federal law)
- Federal general elections for U.S. House of Representatives and Senate (governed by federal law)
- Maine Governor primary election (governed by State statute)
- State Senate and House primary elections (governed by State statute)
General elections for the Governor, State senate and house elections are what the court’s opinion applies to and unless RCV is approved for these three elections, RCV will not apply to these elections. These 3 general elections will be decided by a plurality rather than a majority vote of the electorate. An amendment to LD 1625 submitted by Representative Hickman will implement the seven elections not affected and add one sentence change specifying that RCV will be used in general elections for state offices only when a constitutional amendment allowing it has been adopted.
This amendment will recognize the courts concerns while simultaneously moving full steam ahead with implementation of the other almost 74% of elections approved by voters. We urge legislators to adopt this common-sense solution to addressing the court’s decision while honoring the will of the people who support RCV. We urge them not to use the court’s opinion as justification for repealing the law passed by voters or for delaying implementation of the 7 races which face no constitutional concerns.
While some may say that having two electoral systems is “too confusing” we know from the majority of other states, cities and towns including Portland Maine that RCV has been used successfully alongside other ballots.
Mainers for Open Elections