August 19, 2018
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Maine Senate votes to scrap ranked-choice election system

Troy R. Bennett | BDN
Troy R. Bennett | BDN
Maine Sen. Shenna Bellows
By Steve Mistler, Maine Public
Updated:

AUGUSTA, Maine — The Maine Senate Tuesday took the first step in scuttling a voter-approved state election overhaul before it’s implemented.

The Senate voted 21-13 to repeal the ranked choice voting law that allows voters to rank candidates in order of preference.

The repeal movement follows a Maine Supreme Judicial Court opinion that a key part of the law is likely unconstitutional. While lawmakers are also considering a constitutional amendment, it has yet to achieve the two-thirds support necessary to go to voters for final ratification.

Democratic Sen. Bill Diamond joined Republicans in supporting repeal. While federal elections are likely constitutional under the new system, Diamond said having two election systems will create confusion.

“This has nothing to do with whether you support ranked choice voting or not,” Diamond said. “It’s the absolute practicality of trying to implement two systems at the same time.”

But Democratic Sen. Shenna Bellows said the repeal bill violates the will of voters who approved the law in November.

“We are elected to represent the people, not ourselves,” she said. “And so I would urge you to join me in supporting the will of the people.”

The repeal bill now goes to the Democratic-controlled House.

Supporters of repeal say organizers of last year’s ballot campaign knew ranked choice voting could be unconstitutional. While the court opinion only applied to gubernatorial and state elections, some lawmakers argue that it’s too costly and confusing to have two different voting systems.

The repeal bill now moves to the House for additional votes.

 


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