A citizen-backed law that made Maine the first state to adopt a ranked-choice voting system will be delayed and possibly repealed following a series of contentious votes Monday in a special session of the Legislature. The Senate voted 19-10 to delay the law until December 2021 – and then repeal it if a constitutional amendment hasn’t been passed by then to address legal concerns raised by the Maine Supreme Judicial Court. The House held six procedural votes, then finally agreed with the Senate on a 68-63 tally. The bill now will go to Republican Gov. Paul LePage. LePage will have 10 days to sign it, veto it or allow it to become law without his signature. The Republican long has argued that ranked-choice is unconstitutional and he is unlikely to veto the delay.
Also Monday, the Legislature agreed to amend a new food sovereignty law that it passed and LePage signed into law this year. The new law prompted a federal threat to shut down state-inspected slaughterhouses, potentially jeopardizing the livelihoods of many farmers. The Senate quickly approved a fix to the law and the House approved it unanimously.
Leaders of the referendum campaign that got ranked-choice voting onto the November ballot vowed to push for a citizen-backed veto of the Legislature’s repeal if LePage signs it.
Kyle Bailey, a spokesman for the Committee on Ranked Choice Voting, said lawmakers thwarted the will of voters and suggested those who did might pay a price.