Making Democracy Work

LWVME Statement on Ranked Choice Voting Expansion

Press Release April 10, 2019

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Over 35 Democracy Maine supporters attended or testified

[Augusta, ME] The League of Women Voters of Maine (LWVME) testified at this morning's public hearing on three proposed constitutional amendments to use Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) in general elections for governor and state legislature.

"Even those who do not necessarily favor ranked choice voting should consider supporting one of these resolves," testified John Brautigam, Legal Counsel and Senior Policy Advisor for LWVME. "The net effect of enacting any of these proposals is...to give voters the chance to approve a constitutional amendment that removes the `plurality' obstacle to future ranked choice voting races for these offices. If you believe this issue should be decided on the basis of the expressed will of the voters exercising their constitutional rights, then we respectfully suggest that you should support one of these bills."

"Passing any one of these bills takes a step toward achieving what voters indicated they wanted three years ago," said Anna Kellar, Executive Director of LWVME. "Giving voters the chance to make this constitutional amendment is simply the right and reasonable thing to do."

The League of Women Voters of Maine has been a leading advocate for Maine's use of Ranked Choice Voting since 2011. At Wednesday's hearing, over 35 affiliated grassroots advocates attended and testified in support of amending the constitution.

LD 1477 will pave the way for expanding Maine's current use of Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) to general elections for governor and state legislature. A similar bill + LD 1196 + also allows for the use of RCV in these state elections.

In 2016, Maine voters passed the Ranked Choice Voting Act, determining that all primary and general elections for Maine's governor, state legislature, and federal congressional offices would be conducted by RCV.

But in 2017, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court concluded that general elections for governor and state legislature could not be conducted by RCV because of constitutional provisions requiring "plurality" elections. As a result, in 2018 RCV was implemented only in primary elections plus general elections for federal congressional offices.

The successful expansion of Ranked Choice Voting requires a constitutional amendment. Any of the proposed constitutional amendments must be approved by at least 2/3 of each legislative chamber, at which time it will go before voters in November 2019. A simple majority vote by the public will amend the constitution to allow Ranked Choice Voting to be used in elections for the legislature and governor. Implementing legislation would then be required.