Making Democracy Work

League of Women Voters of Maine Makes the Case for Ranked Choice Voting to State Supreme Court

RCV Constitutional under Maine Law

Press Release March 3, 2017

Portland - Today, the League of Women Voters of Maine (LWVME) will file a legal brief urging the Maine Supreme Judicial Court to uphold the ranked choice voting citizen initiative (RCV) passed on November 8, 2016.

"Ranked choice voting is one of the best steps we can take to improve our democracy," said Jill Ward, president of the League of Women Voters of Maine.  "This important new citizen‐initiated law honors our basic democratic values, and we are confident that it is constitutional under Maine law."  

Between 2009 and 2011, LWVME conducted an extensive analysis of RCV, concluding that RCV puts more power in the hands of voters and produces election outcomes that better reflect the will of the people.  RCV may also improve the civility of elections and increase voter turnout + key objectives of LWVME.    On February 7, 2017 the Maine State Senate asked the Supreme Court for its opinion on the constitutionality of RCV.  The Senate requested a rare "solemn occasion" review of the newly enacted law.

Ms. Ward added, "The voters have spoken, enacting this law by a wide margin. It is now time to implement the law, and there is no justification for a special constitutional challenge outside of the usual judicial process."

LWVME was joined in the brief by Maine Citizens for Clean Elections (MCCE). Executive Director Andrew Bossie said, "Ranked choice voting will ensure the voices of voters are more clearly expressed in our election process and outcomes. Today we explained to the Court why RCV fully complies with the Maine constitution. We look forward to their response so that the law can be fully implemented immediately as the voters wish."      A team of attorneys from Verrill Dana filed the brief on behalf of LWVME and MCCE. The brief argues for the constitutionality of the law, and urges the Court to "preserve the right of the people to declare for themselves the method by which they will exercise their right to vote. . . ." The Court should not interfere with "the people's decision to carry on Maine's tradition as a leader in election policy." LWVME expects that several additional briefs in support of RCV will be filed by today's deadline.

The decision of the Supreme Court will be advisory and non‐binding, but is likely to influence the future course of RCV implementation in Maine.  Oral argument is scheduled for April 13, with an opinion expected by the end of April. The brief will be posted on the LWVME website at: http://www.lwvme.org.  

The League's brief, along with other briefs and related documents and information, will also be available on the State of Maine Judicial Branch website at: http://www.courts.maine.gov/maine_courts/supreme/senate_question_2017/index.html