United States Senator Angus King (I-Maine) has announced his support of Maine’s Question 1 referendum to immediately implement statewide ranked choice elections, vowing to respect the will of the people.
King’s endorsement is seen as another high-profile addition to the growing movement in support of RCV. Last week the Committee for Ranked Choice Voting released a video featuring Oscar-winning actress Jennifer Lawrence who urges voters to vote Yes on 1.
“A high number of voters said this is something they want,” said King in an interview with the Maine Public Broadcasting. “I don’t like the idea that we essentially voided what the voters said.”
In addition to ensuring that elected officials are supported by a majority of voters, King also highlights a benefit of adopting RCV for the state. While runoff elections are commonplace, they are costly and time consuming. RCV elections eliminate those barriers and decide elections in a more efficient way.
Maine’s history with adopting RCV is complicated. The state legislature’s first proposals came in 2001, seeing no success. From then on a series of bills were introduced and subsequently rejected from 2005-13.
Voters approved ranked choice voting in a 2016 referendum with the second highest vote total in Maine initiative history. The rule was set to be made effective Jan. 1, 2018 until the state legislature passed a bill delaying the new system until 2021. Advocacy groups, citizens and lawmakers like King throughout the state voiced their opposition to the delay, and went to work. Advocates gathered more than 66,000 signatures in a ‘People’s Veto’ to halt the delay, which placed the question in front of voters once again.
Oh, and the state’s Republican Party attempted to block the vote via a lawsuit filed with the Maine Supreme Court, but the effort was unsuccessful.
So now, next week voters will finally have their say on the matter, which should finally provide an answer to the question, will Mainers be able to use ranked choice voting in the future? They go to the polls next Tuesday, on June 12.