Maine residents could be ranking the candidates for governor and Congress when they vote in the June primaries even though the Legislature passed a bill Monday to delay a ranked-choice voting system. Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap said Tuesday that supporters of ranked-choice voting could block the bill to delay and repeal the law if they can gather enough signatures within 90 days of the Legislature’s adjournment, expected in early November. That would force another referendum vote – a so-called “people’s veto” – on the matter, likely during the June primary elections that would be the first test of ranked-choice voting. After failed attempts earlier this year to fix the ballot question law, the Legislature passed a bill Monday delaying the shift to ranked-choice voting while adding a poison pill to kill the citizen-backed law in 2021 if the Maine Constitution is not changed.
The bill to delay ranked-choice voting passed by a five-vote margin in the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives and is awaiting action by Gov. Paul LePage.
The Republican governor will have 10 days to sign, veto or allow the bill to become law without his signature. Once that happens, sometime around Nov. 4, and the Legislature adjourns from its current special session, supporters will have 90 days to collect 61,121 signatures from registered Maine voters – 10 percent of the votes cast in the last election for governor, in 2014 – to put a people’s veto on the June ballot. Once those signatures are verified, the law delaying and repealing the ballot question law would be put on hold, Dunlap said.