Maine election officials are racing to implement a new voting system in time for the June primary, marking the first use of ranked-choice voting in statewide primary elections. Secretary of State Matt Dunlap plans to submit proposed rules governing the voting method by month’s end. “It is exciting to finally have a clear mandate of what we’re doing. But it’s also very daunting because we’ve never done this before,” Dunlap said. “You get only one crack at it. There are no do-overs in elections.” The system lets voters rank candidates from first to last. A candidate who wins an outright majority of first-place votes is declared the winner.
But if there’s no majority winner, then it could take a week or more for ballots to be brought to Augusta, entered into a computer and tabulated. Under the system, last-place candidates are eliminated. There are additional tallies until there’s a majority winner.
The aggressive timetable came into play when ranked-choice voters submitted signatures to force a statewide vote to repeal a legislative delay.