Maine became the first state in the nation to adopt ranked choice voting when Maine voters approved Question 5 in November 2016. Yet, lawmakers Monday voted to delay the system until December 2021, and then repeal it if a constitutional amendment is not approved to address a non-binding opinion from the Maine Supreme Court.
Despite voters overflowing committee rooms to testify in support of ranked choice voting, thousands of calls to legislators, over 100 letters to the editor, the biggest newspapers in Maine calling on lawmakers to uphold the will of voters, and one of its biggest opponents changing his mind about full repeal, state lawmakers instead decided to go against the will of their constituents.
More than a handful of Democrats changed their initial vote for partial implementation and joined Republicans in voting for delay and potential repeal — putting supporters of ranked choice voting in a difficult position. Under the new bill, if supporters cannot amend the constitution to bring the ranked choice voting law into complete compliance with the state constitution by December 2021, it will be repealed.
“That the Legislature would vote to scrap Ranked Choice Voting for the 2018 elections, after a decisive vote of the people and nearly a year on the books as enacted Maine law, is outrageous,” said former State Senator Dick Woodbury, chair of the Committee for Ranked Choice Voting. “The vote-splitting problems that have dominated Maine elections in the past are all the more serious in 2018, and that’s why citizens demanded Ranked Choice Voting be up and running and ready to go for the 2018 primaries.”
“The Maine Legislature has broken faith with Maine voters,” said Kyle Bailey, campaign manager for Yes On 5. “They chose to silence the voices of nearly 400,000 Maine people who voted to have more voice and more choice in the 2018 elections, and their decision won’t stand.”
The Committee for Ranked Choice Voting (RCV Maine) announced late Monday that it vows to immediately launch a people’s veto. Stay tuned for more developments on this story.