AUGUSTA – An effort by Maine senate democrats to make ranked choice voting agreeable to Republicans failed this morning.
Republicans said it wasn’t a matter of liking that voting method, it’s a constitutional question.
“The supreme court or no court has ever raised a constitutional issue with running primary elections with ranked choice voting. Period.,” said Senator Mike Carpenter, D – Houlton, during debate on the Senate floor Thursday morning. Senator Carpenter’s proposal to fund ranked choice voting failed to gain Senate approval.
Republicans contend this is a constitutional question. “Maybe we’re wrong, but these serious questions of constitutionality have never been raised in front of a court before,” said Sen. Roger Katz, (R) – Augusta.
Citing the pending lawsuit, a spokesperson for Secretary of State Matt Dunlap declined to comment.
Senator Carpenter told members of the Senate, “I’m offering a fix. If we really are concerned with fixing a problem that I don’t think exists, that’s fine. Let’s fix it. That’s what we do here.”
Maine’s supreme court justices issued an advisory opinion last year stating ranked choice voting conflicted with the Maine Constitution. Now, other conflicts have surfaced.
Senator Katz said, “Until the court finds that our argument is not valid, which they may, I don’t think they’re going to, but they may, we can’t be passing legislation in violation of that constitution.”
While some lawmakers were trying to find a legislative fix for ranked choice voting to go forward, others believe it’s going to be up to the legal system. Whether it’s next week, next month, or after the June primary.
A quote from a 1997 Brad Pitt movie may best describe the ranked choice voting issue “If you’re not confused, you don’t know what’s goin’ on.”