Opponents push unprecedented procedural move to overrule vote of the people
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
AUGUSTA – “Senate President Thibodeau’s procedural request for a solemn occasion on existing Maine law is unprecedented and out of order,” said Kyle Bailey with the Committee for Ranked Choice Voting. “This vote seeks to draw the judicial branch into a political debate that has already been settled by Maine people. It should be rejected.”According to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, “No solemn occasion exists when the Justices are asked to give their opinions on the law which is already in effect.” Opinion of the Justices, 355 A.2d 341,390 (1976); Opinion of the Justices, 437 A.2d 587, 610 (1981). On Nov. 8, 2016, Maine voters approved Question 5, “An Act to Establish Ranked Choice Voting,” with the second largest vote of the people in Maine’s history. Maine’s Ranked Choice Voting Law took effect on Jan. 7, 2017.
“Requesting a solemn occasion on existing Maine law is unheard of. The Court has never before been willing to answer these kinds of questions through the mechanism of a solemn occasion,” said Portland attorney Jamie Kilbreth. “It is particularly troublesome since the proposed questions have no bearing on at least one of the critical components of the statute—federal elections. These particular questions improperly attempt to drag the Court into the political thicket of spending decisions the Legislature has to make routinely, as well as raising substantial separation of powers issues under Maine’s Constitution.”
Constitutional scholars at the University of Maine School of Law, including constitutional law expert Dmitry Bam, and other prominent Maine attorneys confirm that Ranked Choice Voting is consistent with both the U.S. and Maine constitutions.
“This is a last ditch effort by opponents of election reform, who lost at the ballot box, to delay implementation and overrule the people,” Bailey added. “Lawmakers have never before been willing to take such action in order to score political points. They shouldn’t start now.”
Contact: Kyle Bailey | (207) 939-8600 | [email protected]See also detailed background information in “The Maine Constitution” by Marshall J. Tinkle. Question 5 on the November 2016 ballot received more “Yes” votes than same-sex marriage, term limits, tax cuts, casinos, medical marijuana, and clean elections.