Maine’s Supreme Judicial Court has agreed to review a set of questions being posed to it by the Maine Senate over a citizen-enacted law that would change the state to a ranked-choice voting system. The state Senate requested the court review the ballot question law last week, suggesting it presents a so-called “solemn occasion” as the legality and even the constitutionality of the new law could throw state government into post-election chaos. In a bipartisan 24-10 vote, the Senate, as provided in the state’s constitution, asked the court to review the law.
In ranked-choice voting, voters rank candidates in order of preference. If no candidate has more than 50 percent after the first tally, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated. Voters who chose the eliminated candidate have their ballots added to the totals of their second-ranked candidate and the ballots are retabulated. The process continues until one candidate has a clear majority and is declared the winner. The change would apply to races for the Legislature, the governor’s office and Maine’s four congressional seats.
Opponents to the change have said Maine’s constitution calls for the winner of an election to receive only a plurality – or the largest number of votes – in races with two or more candidates.