Maine Voters Win: Ranked Choice Voting Repeal Dies in Legislature

Created: 28 June, 2017
Updated: 17 October, 2022
2 min read

Maine ranked choice voting survives. The bill to fully repeal the first-in-the-nation, voter-approved ranked choice voting initiative for state and non-presidential federal elections died in the legislature Wednesday.

The legislative session will end without any further action being taken, which means ranked choice voting (RCV) is still on the books.

“It’s time to move forward with implementation,” said State Senator Dick Woodbury (I-Yarmouth), chair of the Committee for Ranked Choice Voting.

Ranked choice voting was approved by nearly 400,000 voters (52% of the vote) in November, the second-largest referendum victory in Maine's history. Many state lawmakers attempted to kill the RCV statute after the state Supreme Court issued a non-binding advisory opinion that it did not comply with a state constitutional provision that deals with 3 state general elections.

Yet for federal and primary elections, there was no constitutional conflict.

The legislature considered two bills. One called for a constitutional amendment that would bring ranked choice voting in full compliance with the state constitution. That bill received initial approval from both chambers, but failed to get the two-thirds vote it needed in the final vote.

The second bill called for full repeal of the RCV statute. The Senate passed this bill Tuesday, while the House passed an amended version that would allow ranked choice voting to stand for a majority of elections. The Senate refused to consider the amended version of the bill or form a special committee to negotiate.

The result: The repeal bill died in non-concurrence, and cannot be resurrected without a two-thirds vote from the legislature. So for now the only option opponents to ranked choice voting have is through the courts.

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“Supporters of election reform across Maine will remain vigilant over the coming weeks, months, and years to defend Maine’s voter-approved Ranked Choice Voting law,” said Kyle Bailey, campaign manager for Yes On 5.

“As long as opponents of election reform are working to undermine the will of the people, we’ll be working to uphold the will of the people and ensure that Maine voters have more voice and more choice in our democracy.” - Kyle Bailey

It appears lawmakers heard the thousands of voters who reached out to state lawmakers in the months leading up to the last two weeks, the letters to the editor, the editorials from the biggest newspapers in Maine, and influential political figures like U.S. Sen. Angus King telling lawmakers to respect the will of voters.

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