Standing room only at hearing for constitutional ranked-choice bill

Ranked choice voting hearing

AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER)-- Monday in Augusta, ranked-choice voting got yet another platform during a public hearing.

The system would allow voters to rank candidates in a race from most preferred to least preferred. It was approved by voters a year ago, but then the Maine Supreme Court ruled that the process violates Maine’s constitution in some offices.

The Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee heard arguments for and against a bill sponsored by Representative Kent Ackley of Monmouth. It would make ranked-choice voting in Maine constitutional by applying it only to primary elections for Maine’s state and U.S. House and Senate seats, as well as governor.

Those in favor of the bill say it would be a more effective system of voting with a clear display of majority rule that was already approved by Maine voters.

The process of ranked choice voting will not only allow everyone to be heard, but to feel heard. That is part of it's plus side,” said Democratic Representative Lois Galgay Reckitt of South Portland.

However, those opposed say ranked choice would delay election results and make recounts harder to do.

Democratic Representative John Schneck of Bangor read a letter from long-time voter and resident in Bangor that he felt reflected concerns of ranked-choice appropriately, “Under RCV, as proposed, a recount would require that all paper ballots be brought to Augusta for a series of time consuming recounts before a final winner is declared. With that experience in next June’s primary, there's a high risk that many voters would be so discouraged about RCV, that they'd never vote for another attempt.”

Others felt implementing ranked-choice voting for the June 2018 primaries would be too rushed, and that more time is needed to ease into it.

Ranked-choice was the second most approved referendum question in Maine history. 

© 2017 WCSH-TV


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