State referendum information: Ranked Choice Voting

Tue, 06/12/2018 - 8:30am

    The Maine Secretary of State issued the following information about the only state referendum on the June 12, 21018 ballot.


     This referendum asks whether Maine voters want to reject those portions of legislation that would delay implementation of ranked-choice voting in state and federal elections (including primaries) until 2022, and then repeal ranked-choice voting unless the Maine Constitution is amended to allow ranked-choice voting in general elections for state offices by December 1, 2021.

    The voters of Maine approved a citizen’s initiative in the fall of 2016 to establish ranked-choice voting (“RCV”) as a new method of voting and determining the winner of elections for U.S. Senate, Congress, Governor, State Senator, and State Representative, including primary elections to select nominees for those offices.  In May, 2017, the Justices of the Supreme Judicial Court advised the Maine Senate that implementing RCV in general elections for Governor, State Senator and State Representative would conflict with the Maine Constitution, which provides that such elections must be determined by a plurality of the votes.  Opinion of the Justices, 2017 ME 100, 162 A.3d 188. 

    In an election determined by plurality, voters may vote for only one candidate per office, and the candidate who receives more votes than any other candidate for that office wins.  Under the RCV method, by contrast, voters rank the candidates for each office in order of preference.  If no candidate receives more than 50% of the first choice votes, then the lowest ranked candidate is defeated, and the second choice rankings on those ballots are added to the first choice tallies of the continuing candidates in a second round of counting.  The rounds of counting continue in this manner until there are only two candidates left.  The candidate who receives the most votes in that final round wins.  The Opinion of the Justices did not identify any constitutional conflict with implementing RCV in primary elections, or in general elections for federal offices. 


    In the fall of 2017, the Legislature amended the citizen-initiated RCV law in several respects.  The amendments added language to delay implementation of RCV until after December 1, 2021, and to repeal the RCV law entirely unless the Legislature and the voters have adopted an amendment to the Maine Constitution before that date to authorize RCV in elections for Governor, State Senator and State Representative.  


    A group of citizens gathered enough valid signatures on a people’s veto referendum petition by February 2, 2018, to suspend the parts of the 2017 legislation that would delay and potentially repeal RCV, and to place a question on the ballot rejecting these provisions.  If the voters approve the people’s veto referendum question on the June 12, 2018 ballot, then the legislative provisions delaying and potentially repealing RCV would be rejected.  RCV would become the method for determining the outcome of any primary election in the future, and of any general election for U.S. Senate and for Congress.  


    A “YES” vote favors the people’s veto, meaning that ranked-choice voting would be the method for choosing party nominees in future primary elections for all state and federal offices, and in determining the winners of general elections for U.S. Senate and Congress.


    A “NO” vote opposes the people’s veto, meaning that ranked-choice voting would be delayed until after December 1, 2021, and repealed  unless the Legislature and the voters adopt a constitutional amendment by that date authorizing RCV in general elections for Governor, State Senator and State Representative.


    Public Comments


    No public comments were filed in opposition to Question 1. 


    Public comment in support of Question 1


    Comment submitted by:


    The Committee for Ranked Choice Voting

    Richard Woodbury, Chair

    PO Box 928

    Gorham, ME 04038


    Voting “Yes” on Question 1 protects Maine’s Ranked Choice Voting Law. This is necessary to stop the Maine Legislature from once again overturning the will of the people.


    If this issue sounds familiar, it’s because you’ve voted on it before. Ranked Choice Voting was approved by nearly 400,000 Maine voters in November 2016 and enacted with the second most votes of any referendum in Maine’s history. We’re voting on this for a second time only because the Legislature repealed what we voted for at the ballot box. In fact, the Legislature changed or repealed all four initiatives that were approved by voters in 2016. 


    We cannot allow the Legislature to overturn the will of the people. Fortunately, Maine’s Constitution gives us the right to reverse their decisions through the People's Veto.


    Voting “Yes” on Question 1 affirms our constitutional right to direct democracy and rejects the Legislature’s repeal of our law and their repeated disregard for the will of the people.


    Maine’s Ranked Choice Voting Law puts more power in the hands of all voters and ensures that candidates who are opposed by a majority of voters can never win. With Ranked Choice Voting, you have the freedom to vote for the candidate you like the best without worrying that you will help the candidate you like the least. You never feel like your vote is wasted. 


    Stand up to the politicians who think that they know better than you. Insist on more voice and more choice in our democracy. Vote “Yes” on Question 1. 


    Please visit our website for more information:


    Paid for by the Committee for Ranked Choice Voting. PO Box 928, Gorham, ME 04038.