February 21, 2020
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Future of ranked choice voting clouded by conflicting votes

Micky Bedell | BDN
Micky Bedell | BDN
The House of Representatives meets for the first session of the 128th Legislature at the State House in Augusta, Dec. 7, 2016.

The future of a voter-approved state election overhaul remains in flux following two conflicting votes in the Legislature on Tuesday.

[Maine Senate votes to scrap ranked-choice election system]

Three Democrats joined the Republican majority in the Senate to scuttle the ranked-choice voting law before it’s implemented next year.

[Maine backs ranked-choice voting proposal, but legal hurdles remain]

Democratic Sen. Bill Diamond, a former secretary of state, said allowing the law to stay in place sets up the possibility of having two elections systems — one for state races and another for congressional ones.

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

The bipartisan Senate vote appeared to doom the election overhaul, but the Democratic-controlled House then voted to effectively allow the law to stay on the books until such time as a constitutional amendment is approved.

To date, the two-thirds support needed to send a constitutional amendment to voters has been lacking. And opponents of the law have been emboldened to repeal it after the Maine Supreme Judicial Court found a key provision unconstitutional.

But supporters of ranked-choice voting say the people approved the new system in November, and it’s up to lawmakers to either implement it or offer the chance to change the constitution.

Additional votes will be taken this week.


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