Gideon: “Democrats have always supported finding a solution that will allow for full implementation of ranked choice voting”

AUGUSTA — Today, the Maine House of Representatives passed an amended version of LD 1646: An Act To Bring Maine’s Ranked-Choice Voting Law into Constitutional Compliance. After an advisory opinion from the Maine Supreme Court found pieces of the original referendum unconstitutional, the Legislature was tasked with crafting a solution or facing uncertainty in all electoral results. The amended law will delay implementation of the ranked choice voting system until December 2021. If the Legislature is unable to fix the law’s constitutional issues before then, it would be automatically repealed.

Speaker Sara Gideon released the following statement:
“Mainers asked for election reform and it is our responsibility to enact that law, while also upholding our constitutional duty as legislators. That is why Democrats have always supported finding a solution that will allow for full implementation of ranked choice voting. In fact, every single Democratic member of the House voted to amend the constitution months ago and bring it in line with the will of Maine people. Unfortunately, the Maine Republican Party’s unrelenting opposition to these referendum results made it utterly impossible to pass.”

“Today’s bill keeps in place important portions of the referendum. And I personally hope that in the coming years, a future legislature and a new governor will implement ranked choice voting in a manner that fully complies with the constitution. Until that day, Democrats vow to continue to fight to pass a constitutional amendment and finally give Mainers the electoral reform they want.”

BACKGROUND:
In May, the Maine Supreme Judicial court issued an advisory opinion to invoke a ‘solemn occasion’ and issued an informational opinion on the constitutionality of ranked-choice voting. The seven justices of the court unanimously ruled that the Ranked-choice Voting Act conflicted with the constitution.

In June, the House passed LD 1624, “RESOLUTION, Proposing an Amendment to the Constitution of Maine To Implement Ranked-choice Voting”. The bill would have amended Maine’s constitution to give authority over the form and structure of elections to the Legislature, to be determined in statute and allowed for the implementation of Ranked-Choice Voting in 10 state and federal elections and primaries. As a constitutional amendment, LD 1624 needed to be approved by two-thirds of the Legislature at final enactment. It would then be sent to the voters for approval or rejection.

The bill passed today delays the implementation of ranked-choice voting until elections held after December 1, 2021. This amendment provides that the laws governing ranked-choice voting are repealed unless the Constitution of Maine is amended to authorize the Legislature to determine the method by which the Governor and members of the Legislature are elected. The amendment requires the Secretary of State to submit a report on the implementation of ranked-choice voting to the joint standing committee of the Legislature having jurisdiction over election matters no later than January 2, 2019.