State House leaders Thursday approved introducing competing bills that address ranked-choice voting – one would repeal the first-in-the-nation voting law and the other would put a ballot question to voters on whether to change the state’s constitution to make it legal statewide. Members of the Legislative Council, which includes majority and minority leaders in both chambers as well as the Senate president and the speaker of the House, approved the bills in 9-0 votes. They now will move to public hearings and work sessions before the full Legislature votes on them.
The bills come just two days after the Maine Supreme Judicial Court issued an advisory opinion that found parts of the new law dealing with electing state officials – including the governor and legislators – violate the state Constitution. This could result in legal challenges to election results if a ranked-choice system is used.
Sen. Cathy Breen, D-Falmouth, sponsor of the bill seeking a constitutional amendment, said she was disappointed that there would be a competing bill to undo the law and that fighting it would be difficult.
Amending the state constitution requires approval by two-thirds of the Legislature before it could go to voters; the repeal bill requires only a simple majority vote by legislators.