December 09, 2018
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Maine’s top court sets new hearing on ranked-choice voting

Linda Coan O'Kresik | BDN
Linda Coan O'Kresik | BDN
Maine Supreme Judicial Court hears arguments on ranked-choice voting in 2017 at the Capital Judicial Center in Augusta.

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court will convene at 2 p.m. Thursday in Portland to hear arguments in a rush to decide whether ranked-choice voting will be used for the June 12 primary election.

The hastily scheduled hearing comes just one day after Superior Court Justice Michaela Murphy asked the high court to weigh in on a case brought by the Maine Senate. Parties in the case have until noon to file arguments of not more than 10 pages.

[How Maine ended up in a legal showdown over ranked-choice voting]

The high court has been asked to consider these seven questions, which rely on 15 pages of stipulated facts, which attorneys on both sides of the case — plus intervenors from the Committee for Ranked Choice Voting — have agreed to as accurate.

— Has the Senate proven that the secretary of state’s office has the authority to implement ranked-choice voting for the primary with money it already has? Or does the separation of powers clause in the Maine Constitution or language in the 2017 biennial budget bill, which doesn’t reference ranked-choice voting, prevent that?

— Has the Senate proven that the secretary of state has no authority to order another entity, such as the Department of Corrections or private couriers, to retrieve and transport ballots and voting data from municipalities to Augusta for RCV tallying?

— Has the Senate proven that Maine law, including portions that a pending people’s veto attempt seeks to change, prohibits ranked-choice voting in the primary because of references to a win by “plurality” instead of “majority”?

— Has the Senate, which voted along largely party lines last week to file this suit, proven that it has legal standing in the matter?

— Has the Senate proven that this case is “justiciable under the political question doctrine”? (That’s legalese for, “Is the Maine Supreme Judicial Court the right forum for this decision?”)

— Has the Senate proven that its legal claims are “ripe for adjudication”? That basically means, do the current circumstances make this the right time for this legal challenge?

— Has the Senate identified a “cause of action” for its legal claims? In other words, do the facts support the Senate’s action against the secretary of state?

Watch bangordailynews.com for updates.

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