AUGUSTA – Lawmakers today passed a Senate Order that authorizes the Maine Senate to take appropriate legal action regarding ranked choice voting (RCV). At the heart of the order are questions regarding the separation of powers between the Maine Legislature and the Secretary of State’s Office.
Currently, a Maine Superior Court judge is considering a lawsuit by RCV supporters to force the Secretary of State’s Office to implement the system for the June 12, 2018 primary.
But today’s Senate Order illustrates numerous constitutional problems with implementation of RCV. The Secretary of State’s Office has indicated it will devise a system for counting votes under the RCV system and then deliver the ballots to a central location, despite the fact that those plans conflict with Maine election procedures that are spelled out in existing statute and in the Maine Constitution.
The Secretary of State has also indicated his office is prepared to provide funding for RCV implementation. However, the Maine Constitution clearly states that only the Legislature can appropriate public funding.
Senator Roger Katz (R-Kennebec) is the sponsor of the Senate Order. Senator Katz said, “This has nothing to do with whether or not you support ranked choice voting. This is about the integrity of our electoral system. If we are going to switch to a ranked choice voting system, we cannot simply make it up as we go. If we do, we are opening ourselves up to numerous lawsuits by people who will be adversely affected.”
“The Secretary of State’s Office does not have the authority to create a voting system on its own. That can only come from the Legislature.”
Maine Senate President Michael Thibodeau (R-Waldo) said, “If we don’t get this matter settled, we are headed for chaos in our election system, and that is a huge disservice to the people of Maine. I would like to thank those senators who supported getting clarity on these issues from the Maine court system.”