Backers of ranked choice voting say they'll fight lawmakers' delay

Battle brewing over ranked choice

AUGUSTA, Maine (NECN) -- A last-minute move by Maine lawmakers has some voters upset. Last November, Maine voters approved ranked choice voting, but despite widespread support, RCV may not become a reality. 

Monday night, members of the legislature voted to postpone RCV for four years, and possibly repeal it altogether. 

Maine would have been the first state in the nation to allow ranked choice voting. It lets voters rank their preferences, instead of choosing one candidate. The system triggers run-off elections until one candidate achieves a majority of votes. 

"Maine people are frustrated with politics that isn’t working," said Question 5 campaign manager Kyle Bailey. 

The Maine Supreme Court advised that parts of the law were unconstitutional. Bailey said RCV supporters wanted to see the constitutional parts of the law implemented, but lawmakers voted against it. 

"What the legislature did was a slap in the face," said Bailey. 

But House Minority Leader Ken Fredette said lawmakers were simply doing their jobs. 

"This is part of the process of living in a democracy, and sometimes it’s just a little messy," said Fredette. He said the referendum process has being abused. 

"They really ought to do their homework," said Fredette. “If you have a constitutional problem with a bill…you’re begging the legislature to go in and do something – and that’s exactly what happened here.” 

Supporters of RCV are preparing to trigger what’s called a “People’s Veto” of the legislature’s latest move. Bailey said if they can collect more than 60 thousand signatures in 90 days, people could have a second chance at approving ranked-choice voting at the ballot box.

"We’re going to make sure we…give voters the ability to rank candidates starting in 2018," said Bailey. 


 

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