The Maine Republican Party announced Thursday that they will nullify the ranked-choice voting process for the upcoming 2024 GOP Presidential Primary election.
“Ranked-Choice Voting is widely opposed by voters in Maine, especially Republicans,” said Maine GOP Chairman Joel Stetkis. “Our party rules are clear, and we will only recognize the first round of primary election results under our delegate allocation rules.”
“One person, one vote is a sacred principle to Republicans, and it should be to all Americans. That principle is what we are defending here in this party primary,” Stetkis said.
Stetkis said that the Maine Republican Party “will not recognize any ranked-choice voting totals produced in the second, third or any later rounds by the Maine Secretary of State.”
“They might as well not even waste Mainers’ hard earned tax dollars to run the tabulations,” he added.
Ranked-choice voting has a long legislative history in Maine going back to a bill proposing the system be introduced in 2001, which the Legislature rejected, a 2005 feasibility study on instant runoff voting, and numerous failed bills through 2013.
On Nov. 8, 2016, a citizen’s initiative ballot question to establish ranked-choice voting in Maine passsed by 31,652 votes, and was first used in the state’s June 12, 2018 primary election.
In 2018, the race for Maine’s 2nd Congressional District was decided in favor of Democratic candidate Jared Golden by ranked-choice tabulation after no candidate received a majority of the vote on election night — though the incumbent Republican Rep. Bruce Poliquin received the most first choice votes.
Based on a 2017 decision by the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, ranked-choice voting in general elections for State Representatives, State Senators, and Governor are unconstitutional under the Maine Constitution, because the winners of those offices in a general election must by traditional voting.
Primary elections in Maine, and general elections for federal offices, are governed by statute — not the Maine Constitution.
Currently, Maine uses ranked-choice voting for all state-level primary and general elections for federal offices, including the presidential election.
The 2022 and the proposed 2024 Maine GOP platforms both call for the repeal of ranked-choice voting in the state.
“As long as there are three or more candidates in a party’s primary, it will be conducted as a ranked-choice voting election, as required under state law,” a spokesperson for the Office of the Maine Secretary of State told the Maine Wire Thursday. “Should a ranked-choice tabulation be required, it would be conducted, again in accordance with state law.”
“What the parties choose to do with the results and how they choose to allocate delegates is up to them, rather than the state,” the spokesperson said.
Update: this story was updated to include a comment from the Office of the Maine Secretary of State.