A bill to repeal Maine’s first-in-the-nation adoption of ranked choice voting for all state races died in the state’s legislature on Wednesday, June 28th, 2017. This means that ranked choice voting, which voters adopted via a ballot question in November of 2016, will remain the law of the land as the state’s 2018 elections for state and federal offices approach. Maine voters passed ranked choice voting by a margin of 52% to 48% in November with nearly 400,000 voters approving, making the referendum victory the second largest in the history of Maine.
In May, the Maine Supreme Court issued a non-binding advisory opinion that the law passed by voters did not comply with the state’s constitution when applied to some state offices. The opinion is merely advice to the state senate; it is not binding on any court, and the Maine Supreme Court may come out differently after a lawsuit with all of its associated briefings. The opinion also only applied to state general elections. Ranked choice voting is without question constitutional for state primaries and all federal elections. Members of the Maine legislature tried to use the ruling by the Supreme Court as an excuse to repeal ranked choice voting in its entirety and overturn the will of voters, but those efforts failed this week.
“Supporters of election reform across Maine will remain vigilant over the coming weeks, months, and years to defend Maine’s voter-approved Ranked Choice Voting law,” said Kyle Bailey, campaign manager for the Committee for Ranked Choice Voting. Dick Woodbury, chair of the Committee, added that “It’s time to move forward with implementation.”
The failed repeal effort is a win for voters in Maine, who spoke loud and clear on Election Day in November to adopt ranked choice voting as a means to strengthen their democracy. Those same voters had their voices heard in the months leading up to the legislature’s repeal effort, and their tireless efforts to preserve a stronger voice and greater choice in Maine elections paid off. With Maine’s 2018 elections on the horizon, FairVote looks forward to being a resource as the state moves forward with implementation and prepares voters for a new, better way to vote.