Protected by Maine’s high court, a key group of Democrats looks open to eventually joining Republicans in repealing the state’s pioneering ranked-choice voting law before the 2018 election. The Maine Supreme Judicial Court issued a unanimous opinion in May finding the law unconstitutional after it passed with 52 percent support from voters in 2016, saying it violates a provision allowing elections to be won by a plurality — and not necessarily a majority — of votes. The opinion is non-binding, but it threw the law into question and led to dueling legislative proposals to deal with the problem: Senate Majority Leader Garrett Mason, R-Lisbon Falls, wants to repeal the law, while Sen. Catherine Breen, D-Falmouth, wants to amend the Constitution to allow it. With legislative Republicans and Gov. Paul LePage united on repealing the law, Democrats hold the cards on whether it’ll survive and, if so, in what form. Some key Democrats are open to repeal.
Sen. Bill Diamond, D-Windham, a former secretary of state, said the court’s opinion makes it “clear that it has to be repealed.” Diamond said he wouldn’t support a constitutional amendment, calling it a bad practice to pass a law first and an amendment allowing it later.
“Now that it’s been determined to be unconstitutional, I don’t think it’s our job to necessarily find a way to make it work,” he said.
Positions like Diamond’s cast repeal as the likeliest option of five choices that are less than ideal for legislators caught between defying voters’ will and the Constitution.