Three and a half months ago, Maine legislators passed a bill that provoked instant pushback from ranked choice voting (RCV) supporters. The result was an apparently successful bid to repeal portions of that law. Now the Legislature may be faced with a new task related to changing Maine’s vote-count system: funding it. A people’s veto petition to repeal the bill delaying the implementation of RCV to 2021 was submitted to Secretary of State Matt Dunlap’s office Feb. 2. The effort appears to have enough signatures to send the measure to a June referendum.
Campaigners gathered about 80,000 signatures, 72,175 of which have been certified by town clerks as registered Maine voters. Petitioners needed 61,123 signatures to send the issue to a vote. Dunlap’s staff has until March 5 to certify the signatures.
The existence of a people’s veto immediately blocks the postponement legislation, meaning that as of Feb. 2, RCV is once again law of the land. If Dunlap’s office certifies at least 61,123 signatures, RCV will remain in place until voters decide in June whether to veto the Legislature’s delay bill.
If Dunlap’s staff approves the signatures, he will then approach the Legislature asking for funding to implement RCV, which his office estimates would cost the state about $1.5 million over a two-year period.