A committee of lawmakers was unable to reach a consensus recommendation Thursday on two ranked-choice voting bills submitted in response to legal questions about the first-in-the-nation system approved by voters in November. In an often confusing work session, the Legislature’s Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee voted 6-6-1 on the bills. One sought to send a constitutional amendment to voters, and one proposed an outright repeal of the measure. The division means the full Legislature will have to decide which of five different options it likes best.
The voting Thursday followed a recent advisory opinion from Maine’s Supreme Judicial Court that found parts of the law, which was supported by 51 percent of the voters in November 2016, was not in line with the state’s constitution. The court said the constitution requires that legislators and the governor be elected by a plurality, and elections for those offices conducted under a ranked choice system would likely be challenged in court, potentially invalidating the results and forcing a new election.
… The committee in large part punted the problem, and to some degree the confusion, to the full Legislature by failing to offer lawmakers a clear recommendation on how to implement what many see as the “will of the voters.”