Advocates of ranked-choice voting again seek to expand the use of the voting system in Maine, this time hoping to enact a constitutional amendment that permits the system’s use in statewide general elections.
LD 202, “RESOLUTION, Proposing an Amendment to the Constitution of Maine To Implement Ranked-choice Voting”, sponsored by Sen. Dave Miramant, would amend Maine’s Constitution to require that persons elected to a statewide office receive a “majority” of the votes returned. Currently, the Maine Constitution stipulates that winners of statewide elections receive a “plurality” of the votes returned.
The bill is scheduled to receive a virtual public hearing on Wednesday, Feb. 10 before the legislature’s Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee. The proceedings can be streamed on the VLA Committee’s YouTube channel and testimony can be submitted here.
Ranked-choice voting has been an ongoing battle in Maine since 2016 when voters narrowly approved a ballot initiative enacting the system in Maine. After its passage, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court in a solemn occasion issued a non-binding opinion stating that the system could not be used in statewide general elections because of the “plurality” standard set by the state constitution.
Then, lawmakers moved to delay the implementation of ranked-choice voting and repeal the law entirely if a constitutional amendment was not passed by 2022 to allow use of the system in all Maine elections. That law was partially repealed by the successful ranked-choice voting people’s veto in 2018, leaving the system in place for statewide primary races and federal primary and general elections.
Last session, lawmakers passed a law requiring the use of ranked-choice voting in presidential primary and general elections. Governor Mills allowed that bill to become law without her signature, and an unsuccessful people’s veto effort to undo that law by the Maine Republican Party resulted in Maine using the voting system in the November 2020 presidential election.
Efforts to expand ranked-choice voting across the country at the state level have been met with some resistance as voters learn more about the voting system. In the 2020 election cycle, Massachusetts voters rejected the system with 55 percent of the vote, while Alaska voters narrowly approved it by less than 4,000 votes, 50.55 percent to 49.45 percent.
Mainers should oppose the expansion of ranked-choice voting in our state. The system has fallen short of all of the promises its supporters made to Maine voters: it is a mathematical fact that the system does not produce true majority winners, and it does not get big money out of politics or make our campaigns more civil. Learn more about the pitfalls of ranked-choice voting here.