Election Center

Court overturns SoS Dunlap’s decision to keep RCV veto off November ballot

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A judge ruled late Monday that the Maine Republican Party collected enough valid signatures to advance a people’s veto question on the November ballot that will prohibit the use ranked-choice voting in the upcoming November election and, if successful, prevent its use in future presidential elections.

The superior court’s decision validates 988 signatures that were tossed out by Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap, just enough for the effort to qualify for the ballot.

“Late today the court affirmed what we always knew, that the Repeal Ranked Choice Voting campaign gathered enough signatures to place the people’s veto on the ballot,” Maine GOP Chair Dr. Demi Kouzounas said in a Monday statement.

“We said we would not stop fighting until the Secretary of State’s incorrect decision was overturned. Now we are on to November to Repeal RCV,” Maine GOP Executive Director Jason Savage said.

In Maine, the signature requirement to advance ballot initiatives and people’s veto questions is 10 percent of the total votes cast in the previous gubernatorial election, or 63,067 signatures. Superior Court Judge Thomas McKeon’s action Monday put the effort 22 signatures above the threshold required to achieve ballot status.

In his decision, Judge McKeon determined two circulators who were registered to vote in the towns where they collected signatures met the constitutional threshold to circulate petitions. The Secretary of State’s office interpreted the constitutional language to mean the circulator must be registered to vote when they begin circulating petitions, which is why the office originally deemed those signatures invalid.

The bill the Maine GOP seeks to overturn in its people’s veto effort is LD 1083, which passed in a special session of the legislature in 2019. Governor Janet Mills did not sign the law, allowing it to take effect days after lawmakers reconvened for the second session of the 129th Legislature.

According to the Bangor Daily News, the decision late Monday puts Secretary of State Dunlap under the gun. His office could appeal the Superior Court’s decision to the Maine Supreme Court, but his team must begin printing ballots for the November election on Friday.

“We have no idea where we’re going from here,” Dunlap told the Bangor Daily News.

About Jacob Posik

Jacob Posik, of Turner, is the director of communications at Maine Policy Institute and the editor of The Maine Wire. He formerly served as a policy analyst at Maine Policy. Posik can be reached at jposik@mainepolicy.org.

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