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Maine high court clears way for ranked-choice voting in presidential contest

By Kevin Miller, Portland Press Herald Staff Writer | Sep 22, 2020

Maine’s highest court ruled Tuesday that opponents of ranked-choice voting had failed to collect enough signatures to trigger another statewide referendum, opening the door for the first-ever use of the process in a presidential election.

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court overturned a lower court ruling that would have blocked the use of ranked-choice voting in the presidential contest on Nov. 3. Instead, the state Supreme Court agreed that the Maine Secretary of State’s Office was justified in invalidating roughly 1,000 petition signatures submitted by the groups challenging ranked-choice voting in a presidential race.

As a result, the groups failed to submit enough signatures to trigger a “people’s veto” referendum this November on the use of ranked-choice voting in a presidential election.

The high court’s ruling on Tuesday effectively means that Maine voters will be able to rank the presidential candidates in order of preference, absent any other legal developments.

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Comments (5)
Posted by: ANANUR FORMA | Sep 24, 2020 10:57

Thank you Wendy for your clarity.

Posted by: wendy c kasten | Sep 24, 2020 09:26

Ralph, I don’t think you understand this correctly. Some states, in their elections require a candidate to win with over 50% of the vote. It happened recently in Mississippi. It was a three way race, and no one candidate achieved over 50%. So they had to schedule an entire new election at great expense. Voter turnout in runoff elections is historically poor. The second election was between the two candidates with highest numbers of votes.

Ranked choice only matters when there are more than two candidates. Sometimes there are only two. But more often in Maine, there are 3-5 candidates. In the last 40 years of gubernatorial elections in Maine, no race has had only two candidates. Running for governor is popular.

So Ranked Choice voting only kicks in, if there is a three way race, or more. We are doing the same thing as Mississippi except, we don’t need to put together a new election. The information has already been collected. And so we accomplish a second election without having to print new ballots, and schedule a second election. It is still one person one vote, because only your first choice COUNTS, unless no candidate gets a majority. Most races will not need rcv.

If you look at Maine data on governors races, all available on internet, we’ve been electing governors with only slightly over a third! That’s not the majority of voters in Maine. Before our current governor, the only governor getting past 50% was Angus in his second term. This has been true for both parties. This is not a partisan issue. The data are clear. Both parties have won elections in about the same number without a majority.

I hope this makes sense. RCV is not new. It is used in other countries, in major cities, and maybe a few other states.

Posted by: Kevin Riley | Sep 23, 2020 12:44


Please explain how ranked choice violates one person - on vote.


Posted by: Crawford L Robinson | Sep 23, 2020 09:59

Ranked choice worked exceedingly well last time around. No wonder it couldn't conjure up enough naysayer votes. Definitely a step forward for Mainers!!! I predict it will catch on. 'As goes Maine... so goes the nation'.

Posted by: RALPH WALLACE | Sep 23, 2020 09:02

Violates established, bedrock concept of "one man - one vote." This is a sad day for Maine.

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