PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Supporters of ranked-choice voting are wrapping up collection of signatures to thwart a legislative delay and put the system into place for the June primary elections.
The Committee for Ranked Choice Voting is submitting signatures to town offices for processing before they’re retrieved, sorted, counted and delivered to state officials before the deadline of 5 p.m. Friday.
At least 61,123 signatures of registered voters are needed for a “people’s veto” referendum to stop a legislative delay and allow the new system to go into effect in June.
Kyle Bailey, campaign manager, isn’t saying whether the goal will be attained.
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“I don’t count my chickens before they’re hatched,” Bailey said. “We’re working hard to get everything lined up to go to the secretary of state’s office.”
The ranked-choice system lets voters rank ballot choices from first to last to ensure the winner gets a majority.
Maine became the first to adopt the election overhaul with a statewide vote in November 2016. Lawmakers balked at using it for state elections after a state supreme court opinion said ranked-choice voting conflicts with a constitutional mandate that candidates with the most votes, not a majority of votes, are the winners.
Because of the opinion, the governor’s and legislative races will continue to be settled with the current system, but ranked-choice voting could still be implemented for congressional and presidential elections and primary elections.
Critics say the two-tier system would be confusing and difficult to implement and supporters are disappointed it wouldn’t apply to the gubernatorial races. Both Democrat John Baldacci and Republican Paul LePage won three-way races without getting a majority.
State lawmakers voted to delay ranked-choice voting, and it’ll eventually be repealed altogether unless advocates can win enough support to amend the state constitution.
If the signature-gathering effort is successful, however, then the legislative delay would remain and ranked-choice voting would be allowed in June, where there’d be another vote.