Ranked choice voting supporters go to court

February 16, 2018

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — Eight Democratic candidates went to court Friday to ask a judge to make sure the state’s voter-approved ranked-choice voting system is in place in time for the June primary elections.

The Committee for Ranked Choice Voting has submitted petitions for a people’s veto referendum aimed at nullifying a legislative delay. If there are enough signatures, then the legislative delay would be stayed, allowing the system to be implemented in June.

But committee chairman Dick Woodbury said Friday there’s still uncertainty, and he hopes a Superior Court judge will “establish some clarity.”

The legal action was filed on behalf of 2nd District congressional candidate Lucas St. Clair; gubernatorial candidates Jim Boyle, Mark Dion, Mark Eves, Sean Faircloth, Diane Russell and Betsy Sweet; and state senate candidate Ben Chipman.

Maine became the first to adopt the election overhaul with a statewide vote in November 2016.

The ranked-choice system lets voters rank ballot choices from first to last in a system that ensures the winner gets a majority.

It would not apply to primaries and federal races but not gubernatorial or legislative races to avoid a conflict with the Maine Constitution.

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.

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