The Maine Republican Party says it has collected enough signatures to challenge a new law expanding the use of ranked-choice voting in Maine.
On Monday, the Maine GOP announced that its Repeal RCV Campaign collected more than 72,000 signatures, surpassing the 63,067 signature requirement to advance a people’s veto. They seek to repeal a 2019 law (LD 1083) expanding the use of ranked-choice voting in Maine to presidential primary and general elections.
If the Secretary of State’s office verifies the signatures within 30 days, the law will be officially stayed, meaning that voters will not use ranked-choice voting in the November presidential election. Instead, they will be asked if they want to uphold or repeal the law.
The legislature passed LD 1083 in August of last year, though Governor Janet Mills abstained from signing the bill so it would not affect Maine’s democratic primary election in March. The bill, which Mills publicly supported, became law without her signature at the end of the legislative session this year.
The GOP launched their people’s veto effort in February but were forced to find new ways to collect signatures given the challenges posed by COVID-19.
“Major roadblocks in the signature collection process required our team to completely re-invent the signature gathering process. Due to state restrictions, we were forbidden from knocking doors and unlike other people’s veto campaigns, there were no large gatherings,” said Jason Savage, executive director of the Maine GOP.
Republicans also had only 64 days to collect signatures instead of 90, the normal window for a people’s veto. They attribute the shortened time frame to the statewide lock-down, early adjournment of the Maine Legislature, and governmental red tape.
“Collecting more than 72,000+ signatures in the midst of a pandemic and statewide lock-down that greatly reduced our capacity to collect signatures is a historic feat,” GOP Chair Dr. Demi Kouzounas said.
The GOP will also have to overcome legal obstacles as they move forward. In April, the Committee for Ranked Choice Voting 2020 filed a lawsuit against Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap for allowing the petition to circulate. They point to the Maine Constitution, which prohibits the use of a people’s veto once a law has taken effect.
Despite challenges the GOP will face, they remain determined to carry out their vision of “one person, one vote.”
“The People’s Veto has always been about restoring the sanctity of our election process, preserving the bedrock American principle of ‘one person, one vote’ and ensuring that Ranked Choice Voting does not interfere with Maine’s Presidential elections,” Savage said.
If certified by Secretary Dunlap to appear on the November ballot, the people’s veto will be the third referendum concerning ranked-choice voting in the past four years. Maine voters first passed rank choice voting in 2016 and later upheld the initiative in 2018.