Producer/Host: Amy Browne
Will Maine’s New Ranked Choice Voting Law Survive the State Legislature?
The Ranked Choice Voting law passed by Maine voters in November may soon be repealed by the legislature, based on a word that was changed in the state constitution back in the 1800s. The word “plurality” was substituted for “majority” after a contentious gubernatorial race in 1880. As a result, some races in the state can be (and often are) won by candidates who have the support of far less than a majority of the voters. The court’s opinion pertains to only some of the races that would be covered by the new ranked choice voting law. The remaining races could also be conducted via ranked choice voting if the state constitution were amended to read “majority” again rather than plurality. But some in the state legislature are taking the opportunity to throw out the new law entirely – and according to an analysis by Michael Shepard in today’s Bangor Daily News (bangordailynews.com/2017/06/06/the-point/maine-lawmakers-have-five-options-on-ranked-choice-voting-signs-point-to-repeal/), they may succeed, as some Democrats are considering voting with the Republicans.
On Friday a public hearing was held on 2 competing bills- LD1624 which proposes to amend the state constitution to allow implementation of ranked choice voting, and LD1625 which would repeal the new ranked choice voting law altogether. The hearing drew an overflow crowd to the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee and testimony lasted more than 4 hours. Not a single member of the public spoke in support of overturning ranked choice voting. We’re going to listen in on some of the testimony today- as much as we can squeeze into an hour.
UPDATE: As we went to air work sessions for these bills were posted. They will take place on Thursday, June 8th at 1pm. FMI: legislature.maine.gov/bills/phwksched.html?CODE=VLA&snum=128
Maine Currents- independent local news, views and culture, every Tuesday at 4pm on WERU-FM and weru.org