July 16, 2017

AUGUSTA, Maine — Ranked choice voting is unconstitutional, according to Maine’s Supreme Court, yet it’s still the law of the land.

Lawmakers were recently unable to agree on modifying or killing the voter-approved law, meaning it stays on the books.

It’s the option that several Democratic and Republican lawmakers and officials said no one wants, creating a blueprint for a possible lawsuit against the state.

Ranked choice voting is when voters rank the candidates in order of preference instead of voting for a single candidate. Maine is the only state in the nation with such a system.

“It’s taking a rocket to the moon without a rocket,” said Democratic Secretary of State Matt Dunlap, noting the state estimated it would need $1.7 million over two years for additional ballot pages, software, state police fuel and updated ballot machines. “Next year, maybe they’ll give us a rocket.”

In November, 52 percent of Maine voters approved the new system supporters say ensures a candidate wins a majority of votes.

In response to a request by lawmakers, the Maine Supreme Court issued an opinion in May saying the voter-approved law is unconstitutional for general elections for governor and state lawmakers.

Last month, lawmakers’ efforts to get rid of ranked choice voting died.

The Legislature is talking about tackling the thorny issue again in January, with Republicans pushing for repeal.

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