Rules for how Maine will count votes this June in Maine’s first ranked-choice voting election are on a fast-track to approval by Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap. Dunlap released proposed rules on Wednesday and announced that the window for the public to comment on them will end on April 6 so his office will have time to prepare for the June 12 primary election. This marks the first time in U.S. history that a state has used ranked-choice voting in statewide legislative and gubernatorial primary elections. The rules cover ballot layout, how they will be counted and security procedures for delivering paper ballots or voting machine memory devices from towns and cities to Augusta. … Dunlap said in March that long-term, the cost of implementing the system could exceed $1 million a year but probably won’t cost that much for the June primary.
A citizen-initiated petition led to a 2016 referendum in which Maine voters approved use of the system, but the Legislature enacted a law in 2017 that called for an amendment to the Maine Constitution before the system could be used. Under that law, if that didn’t happen by December 2021, the ranked-choice voting system would be nullified.
However, supporters of ranked-choice voting launched a people’s veto petition of the Legislature’s law, which was certified as valid by Dunlap in March. That petition forces a question on the June ballot asking whether voters want to cancel the Legislature’s law and put ranked-choice voting in place for the long term. Meanwhile, supporters filed a suit in Kennebec County Superior Court last month seeking to ensure ranked-choice voting is used in the June primary, which could be moot if Dunlap’s rules are implemented.