The people of Maine are once again rising up in popular support of ranked choice voting (RCV), just days after state lawmakers voted to delay and essentially repeal the state’s voter-approved RCV law. Backed as a 2016 ballot measure, RCV was to apply to all state and federal elections in Maine in 2018.
Organizers from the Committee for Ranked Choice Voting submitted an application with the state to launch a referendum campaign – a “People’s Veto” – to reverse the legislature’s action and restore RCV for uses that are clearly legal under the Maine constitution, including all state and congressional primaries and all U.S. Senate and U.S. House races.
Dramatically the Secretary of State approved the petition to begin collecting signatures Monday afternoon – just hours before state polls opened on Tuesday. The campaign was ready to work all night copying and distributing petition to some 300 Mainers who had signed up to volunteer on Election Day.
After what appears to be a good day collecting signatures, the Committee now has until early February 2017 to collect 61,123 valid signatures of Maine registered voters in order to trigger the People's Veto.
Should the campaign succeed in its signature drive, the People’s Veto will result in two important developments. First, it will restore Maine’s ranked choice voting law and require its implementation for the June 2018 primary election for state and federal offices. Second, it will result in a referendum at that June election in which the voters make the final call on keeping RCV in Maine for future primary elections and future U.S. Senate and House elections.
In a post for the Independent Voter Network, Dick Woodbury, chairman of the Committee for Ranked Choice Voting (and a former state senator) said “Voters want Ranked Choice Voting implemented now, starting with the June 2018 election, because we want more voice and more choice in our democracy.”
Nearly 390,000 Maine voters voiced strong approval of RCV in 2016, the second highest vote total of any initiative in the state’s history. Before the legislature’s move to delay the law, Maine was poised to be the first state in the nation to adopt RCV for its statewide offices.
Ironically, the attack on the sovereignty of Maine voters was backed by a governor who won with less than 40 percent of the vote and led in the legislature by three gubernatorial candidates who without RCV could win their primary with far less than 50 percent support, an outcome that ranked choice voting is designed to prevent. It proves as another example of why voters demanded RCV, in order to create a new politics that is genuinely responsive to the will of the people.
Folks in Maine who would want to give voters a greater voice and make our democracy stronger can join the Committee for Ranked Choice Voting signature-gathering campaign here.