AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap said his office may contest a judge’s ruling that a Republican challenge to a ranked-choice voting law made the 2020 ballot before walking the statement back the next day as a key deadline approaches.
Dunlap, a Democrat, told the Bangor Daily News on Tuesday his office was determining whether to ask Superior Court judge Thomas McKeon to reconsider his Monday decision or appeal it to the state’s high court. It adds another twist to a months-long saga over the Maine Republican Party’s effort to repeal a new law that would expand ranked-choice voting to presidential elections.
The secretary of state clarified his statement on Wednesday morning, saying his office had not made a final decision on pursuing further action.
On Monday, the judge ruled that Dunlap improperly discarded 988 signatures because circulators who notarized them were not registered to vote in the towns they were circulating in. He determined the signatures were valid because the collectors registered to vote in those towns after signatures were collected but before turning them in.
Dunlap said any reconsideration request would be based on whether his department found that McKeon miscalculated the amount of signatures restored, something his office was working on Tuesday night. An appeal would challenge McKeon’s reason for restoring those signatures.
The secretary of state said the decision could have ramifications for how signature-gathering campaigns work in the future. Jason Savage, the Maine Republican Party’s executive director, said it was “sad that [Dunlap] would work so hard to disenfranchise Maine people.”
State Republicans used hundreds of thousands of dollars in money from their national party to put the measure on the ballot. Doing so would block the use of ranked-choice voting in the 2020 election in which they are trying to defend President Donald Trump, who won Maine’s 2nd Congressional District in a historic 2016 split.
Any decision on the matter would have to come quickly, since Dunlap’s office has said it needs to begin printing ballots on Friday so they can get to overseas and military voters.