Voices & Choices

Maine becoming first to use ranked choice voting in statewide primary

Maine becoming first to use ranked choice voting in statewide primary

The people in Maine have spoken: they want to use ranked choice voting (RCV) in June and have a chance to keep the system in place for future primary and congressional elections.

Matthew Dunlap, Maine’s secretary of state today certified 66,687 signatures to force a ‘People’s Veto’ referendum that could override the state legislature’s decision to delay implementation of RCV.

The certification sets up two historic votes on June 12. Maine voters will use RCV that day in all primaries for state and federal offices -- and they will vote to restore key sections of the 2016 law that instituted RCV to elect Maine’s state, and federal officials.

Voters initially approved RCV for all state, U.S. Senate and U.S. House elections in November 2016, with the second highest vote total in Maine initiative history. In October 2017, however, the legislature effectively repealed that measure.

June’s primary suspends the 2017 law and will make Maine the first state in the modern era to use ranked choice voting to nominate candidates for U.S. Senate, U.S House, governor and state legislature. The League of Women Voters of Maine is leading an Implement RCV campaign to educate voters and candidates at they prepare for the June primary, while the Committee for Ranked Choice Voting is leading the referendum campaign to keep RCV on the books for future U.S  Senate and U.S. House elections (including this November) and future primaries for Congress and state offices.

Maine joins more than a dozen American cities that are using RCV and generating more participation, civic engagement and substantive, civil campaigns. Recent additions to that list include Santa Fe, New Mexico (using RCV on March 6th for city elections, including an open seat race for mayor with five strong candidates) and Benton County, Oregon (which will use RCV for the first time in either November 2018 or November 2020).

Rob Richie, FairVote’s executive director today released this statement:

“Maine is showing the entire country an example of democracy at its very best.

“Citizens demanded RCV for better elections, fairer representation, and more meaningful elections. Politicians stood in the way and tried to reverse the will of the people. Well, today, those politicians heard all 66,687 of you. The People’s Veto is heading to the ballot this June.

“Mainers are tired of elections won by candidates with less than 40 percent of the vote. They know that real democracy means that every vote counts, and that the best elections provide civil debate and lead to real consensus and leaders that represent all of the people. That’s what RCV will bring to this state.

“Our congratulations, again, to the Committee for Ranked Choice Voting, which collected all these signatures and will lead yet another campaign to keep RCV in place. We also know that the League of Women Voters of Maine, and other civic groups, will do their usual terrific job in educating state voters on RCV. And we appreciate all the work that Maine’s secretary of state and local election clerks will take on as they implement RCV in Maine.

“It will be worth the effort. The people are out to fix our broken politics. Maine’s historic step will be long-remembered in this crucial battle to make democracy stronger for everyone.”

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