McCormick: Delay in ranked-choice voting could benefit Gov. LePage

Ranked-choice voting (RCV) was approved by voters last November. It’s the law of the State of Maine. But that hasn’t stopped opponents from actively seeking to delay implementation, with the ultimate goal of repealing the law.

The State Senate will consider a rare procedural move tomorrow (Thursday) that would call into question the constitutionality of Maine’s Ranked-choice voting law.

As former Senator Dick Woodbury pointed out in a Portland Press Herald column last week: “Most people consider Sen. King’s re-election in 2018 a near certainty. But not so fast. It’s been speculated for some time that Gov. LePage is also considering challenging Sen. King.”

Dick goes on to speculate that if the Maine Legislature slows down implementation of Ranked Choice Voting and it is not in place for the 2018 election, “One could envision Diane Russell energizing the dreams of 15 or 20 percent of voters from the Bernie Sanders left, Republican Paul LePage holding strong to his 40-plus percent base, and Angus King winding up back home in Brunswick in a distant second place. And voila, a minority of Maine voters launches LePage on to the national stage.”

Dick concludes that RCV is the best way to prevent Paul LePage from beating Angus King in 2018: “Fortunately, from my perspective, Maine’s elections will use ranked choice-voting in 2018. That translates to an instant runoff between LePage and King, and King returning to Washington with 55 or 60 percent of the vote, just as we expected all along, and just as a true majority of Maine voters find acceptable.”

Dick is right. And Maine progressive should be very concerned about any attempts by opponents, who lost at the ballot box, to slow down implementation of ranked-choice voting.

You can call your state senator at (207) 287-1540 before tomorrow to ask them to vote against a procedural advisory opinion to delay RCV implementation.

Here are some important points to make:

  • The Legislature should honor the will of the people and implement Maine’s Ranked Choice Voting law in full for 2018. During a two year campaign, voters heard arguments in support of and in opposition to it. On Election Day, a majority — nearly 400,000 Republicans, Democrats, Independents, Greens, and Libertarians — voted to adopt Ranked Choice Voting for elections starting in 2018. Lawmakers should respect the will of the people and vote against an advisory opinion.
  • Seeking an advisory opinion on existing Maine law is an unprecedented procedural move by opponents to draw the Maine Supreme Court into a political debate that has already been settled by Maine people. The Legislature should not fall into the trap of calling into question the integrity of our election system, the integrity of future elections that utilize Ranked Choice Voting, and the separation of powers. Lawmakers should vote against this rare procedural move to undermine existing Maine law.
  • Courts in four states have ruled that Ranked Choice Voting upholds the principle of one person, one vote, ensures that candidates with the most votes — a plurality — are elected, and gives more voice to the people. Seeking an advisory opinion is a last ditch effort by opponents who lost at the ballot box to raise doubts about the law and slow down its implementation. Lawmakers should vote against an advisory opinion.

About Dale McCormick

Avatar photoDale McCormick is a former Democratic State Senator, State Treasurer, and Augusta City Councillor.

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