2017-06-25 / Front Page

House vote spells doom for ranked choice amendment


AUGUSTA (AP) — A proposed constitutional amendment aimed at fully implementing a ranked choice voting referendum approved by voters failed Friday to win a two-thirds majority in the Maine House, spelling doom for the amendment and again leaving the voting overhaul in limbo.

Democratic Sen. Cathy Breen pressed for an amendment after the state supreme court ruled that the voter-approved, ranked-choice election overhaul was unconstitutional.

"This constitutional amendment would have allowed voters to decide for themselves whether to continue with the law they passed in November — putting the final decision back in their hands where it belongs," Breen said Friday. Ranked choice voting "is most likely dead, for now," she said.

The House vote was 78-68, short of the majority needed to send the amendment to voters.

The referendum approved by voters in November was designed to allow residents to rank their ballot choices from first to last in a system that ensures a candidate wins a majority of votes. Supporters say it ensures broad support and weeds out "spoiler" candidates.

The Legislature is also expected to take up a repeal proposal next week. Without some sort of action, the law will remain on the books, sparking a legal challenge.

Lawmakers have the option of repealing the law altogether, or keeping ranked choice voting for federal races and primary elections. The latter is possible because the state supreme court advisory opinion dealt only with elections for governor and state lawmakers.

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