Voices & Choices

Judge: Ranked choice voting count must continue in Maine

Judge: Ranked choice voting count must continue in Maine

The count must go on in Maine’s 2nd Congressional District race. So ruled Federal District Court Judge Lance Walker, who denied U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin’s request (with other plaintiffs) to stop the ranked choice voting count. The 16-page opinion carefully considers the plaintiffs’ claims and finds each unpersuasive. Here are a few key quotes:

“[I]t appears that Maine’s RCV system is designed to enable every voter the opportunity to express a preference, and be counted, with respect to the candidates most likely to win the election. Plaintiffs, it seems, have expressed their preference fully and equally on that matter.”

“Here, there is no dispute that the RCV Act, the product of a citizens’ initiative, was motivated by a desire to enable third-party and non-party candidates to participate in the political process, and to enable voters to express support for such candidates, without producing the spoiler effect. In this way, the RCV Act actually encourages First Amendment expression, without discriminating against any given voter.”

“The remedy in a democracy, when no constitutional infirmity appears likely, is to exercise the protected rights of speech and association granted by the First Amendment to persuade one’s fellow citizens of the correctness of one’s position and to petition the political branch to change the law. As it stands, the citizens of Maine have rejected the policy arguments Plaintiffs advance against RCV.”

This opinion responds only to the Plaintiffs’ motion for a temporary restraining order, or TRO, to stop the RCV count from proceeding. The lawsuit is still ongoing and the next step would be for Judge Walker to release a scheduling order. However, Judge Walker’s opinion makes clear he is unpersuaded on the substance of the Plaintiffs’ argument, and so, it is possible that Rep. Poliquin will withdraw the lawsuit.

It appears that the legal challenge will follow the path of prior cases brought by opponents against RCV, all of which have lost in court.

The full opinion can be read below, or downloaded at this link:


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