AUGUSTA -- Nearly 100 Maine citizens ages 20-81 from across the state descended on Augusta this morning to testify before their elected lawmakers in support of LD 1646.
The bill, introduced by Rep. Kent Ackley, would bring Maine’s voter-approved Ranked Choice Voting law into constitutional compliance and implement it for the 2018 primary and federal elections. Only one Maine citizen testified against LD 1646.
“Ranked choice voting has been Maine law for nearly a year now; a result of the most respectful, deliberative and pure exercise of American democracy that I’ve ever observed,” said former State Senator Dick Woodbury (I-Yarmouth).
Woodbury, who served as chair of the 2016 campaign that won Ranked Choice Voting, added:
“It was debated, deeply and thoroughly in innumerable public forums over a period of nearly two years leading up to the referendum vote, and it was passed into law with the second most affirmative votes of any referendum in Maine history.”
One by one, Democrats, Republicans, independents, Greens, and Libertarians took to the podium to ask their lawmakers to respect the will of the people and implement Ranked Choice Voting now. No delay. No repeal.
“It never occurred to me that the Legislature might spit in the face of the voters and consider refusing to implement the unchallenged portions of Ranked Choice Voting,” said Cushing Samp, a resident of Saco who was understandably frustrated.
"This has brought new hope for us and made me an even prouder citizen of Maine,” said Andrew Tarrant, a veteran who took the day off work to come testify. “I am asking you today to keep this dream alive."
"I speak as an engaged election administrator, as the Registrar of Voters for my town," said Amy Smith of Arrowsic. "Ranked Choice Voting is not a mysterious or overwhelming task. It's a proven voting system in many settings. We can do this."
Rep. Lois Galgay Reckitt of South Portland spoke to the heart of the issue, “The process of Ranked Choice Voting will let everyone not only to be heard, but to feel heard.”
The Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee also brought in RCV experts from Minnesota and North Carolina to testify.
Gary Barlett, the former Director of Elections for North Carolina, had 86 days and no additional appropriation from the North Carolina Legislature to implement Ranked Choice Voting for a statewide special election in 2010.
Gary said, “What is so remarkable, the RCV Election ended up being a routine election accomplished in a short period of time. We understand Maine has different laws, policies and customs, but North Carolina’s RCV experience can offer insight and emulation where it makes sense.”
Jeanne Massey, who managed public education in Minnesota cities where Ranked Choice Voting is used, testified:
“As the implementation experience at the municipal level in Minnesota’s largest cities and at the statewide level in places like North Carolina has shown, a competent staff of election administrators is unquestionably capable of completing the implementation process in a period even shorter than the current time frame ahead of the June 2018 primary elections.”
The Maine Legislature is expected to take up Ranked Choice Voting during the upcoming special session. Citizens attending the public hearing today said that they plan to show up again and again, and again, if necessary, to make sure their lawmakers uphold their will.