Maine likely to be first state to use ranked choice voting in presidential election

This after a procedural ruling from the Maine Supreme Judicial Court Tuesday morning.
Published: Sep. 8, 2020 at 5:31 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Maine (WABI) - Maine will likely be the first state in U.S. history to use ranked-choice voting in a presidential election.

This after a procedural ruling from the Maine Supreme Judicial Court Tuesday morning.

Maine’s highest court heard arguments last week addressing Secretary of State Matt Dunlap’s appeal to stop a GOP-led people’s veto on ranked-choice voting in presidential elections.

Dunlap argued that roughly 1,000 signatures were not valid because the petition circulators were either not registered or not residents.

A lower court judge had ruled there were enough valid signatures, which would have put the measure on the ballot and prevented the use of RCV in the presidential race this November.

Dunlap appealed.

The high court issued a procedural ruling Tuesday that, for the time being, will allow ranked-choice voting to be used in the November presidential race.

We spoke with Dunlap who says they have a strict federal deadline for printing state ballots.

“One of the questions we got early on was, ‘are we going to print two different sets, one with the question and one with ranked choice for president?’ That would be about an additional quarter million dollars that would be recycled automatically once we had the final determination from the court. And in case anyone has noticed, there’s not a lot of state revenue lying around to do that type of thing. So, we knew and the court knew what our deadlines looked like. So, we are proceeding along the lines of this is the way it’s going to be.”, says Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap.

The Maine Supreme Court could still issue a ruling on the merits of the People’s Veto between now and the November 3rd election causing the Secretary of State’s office to have to quickly print new ballots before election day.

Dunlap thinks it’s highly unlikely they would do this.

Full statement from Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap:

Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap publicly thanked the Supreme Judicial Court for their swift clarification of the status of the Superior Court ruling that had overturned the Secretary’s determination that the Maine Republican Party had gathered insufficient valid signatures to force a people’s veto that would have forestalled the implementation of L.D. 1083, “An Act to Implement Ranked-choice Voting for Presidential Primary and General Elections in Maine.” The Court ruled on Tuesday that the appeal of the Superior Court decision to the Supreme Judicial Court has the effect of placing an automatic stay on the effectiveness of the Superior Court decision, with no motions for a stay being necessary. The Court will decide the merits of the case after the parties file briefs on the merits.

Today’s ruling has the effect of leaving in place the original determination of the Secretary of State that the people’s veto effort did not have sufficient signatures to place a stay on the effectiveness of the adopted law and to require an up-or-down vote on the ballot in November on whether ranked-choice voting could be used in the election of the President of the United States.

The Court did not rule today on the merits of the case, only on whether a stay of the Superior Court’s ruling was in place. Because the Court determined that an automatic stay resulted from the filing of the appeal, what remains in place pending the final ruling of the Court is the original determination of the Secretary of State that the people’s veto effort did not gather the 63,067 required signatures to force the matter to a vote in November. “Because of Federal deadlines regarding providing printed ballots to military and overseas citizens abroad, we must tell the printers to begin their work today. We thank the Court for their swift clarification, understanding that this is not a ruling on the merits. But now we have to begin the work of bringing the election to the voters of Maine,” Dunlap said.

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