A potential fix to the constitutional concerns raised about Maine’s new ranked-choice voting system faltered in the Maine House on Friday. The 78-68 House vote fell short of the two-thirds majority needed to present voters with a proposed constitutional amendment on a ranked-choice voting process that fundamentally changes the way Maine voters elect legislators, governors and members of Congress. Lawmakers voted largely along party lines, with Democrats supporting sending the constitutional amendment to voters and Republicans opposing the measure. Although 52 percent of Mainers voted to approve switching to a ranked-choice system last November – making Maine the first state to do so – the Supreme Judicial Court issued a unanimous advisory opinion last month that said the process would violate Maine’s Constitution. That has left lawmakers with two major options: either repeal the ranked-choice voting law approved by voters, or give voters a chance to change Maine’s Constitution to address the court’s concerns.
A repeal bill is still pending in the Legislature and would require a lower threshold to pass. But without legislative action in some form, the ranked-choice voting system would remain in place until it faces a likely court challenge following an election.
Supporters of the proposed constitutional amendment, sponsored by Democratic Sen. Cathy Breen of Falmouth, said lawmakers must “respect the will” of the more than 580,000 voters who supported Question 5 on last November’s ballot.