Campaign Corner

Mason’s statement on ranked choice voting findings

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LISBON, Maine — As many of you know I have had serious concerns about the implementation of Ranked Choice voting in Maine without first having a more detailed explanation of the process put to a vote by the public in a regular election.

After questions of constitutionality and legality were raised about the Ranked Choice process, this became even more important as the election of our government officials must always be done through a process that is respected and accepted by the Maine people.

I have also repeatedly expressed my concerns about the current system of placing referendum questions on the ballot and how it needs major reform. This process is now deeply flawed, and in need of serious overhaul if it is to regain credibility. The referendum on Ranked Choice voting, in which the voters were asked to approve a one sentence question for a very complex issue is not sufficient to begin implementing such a risky new system in a short time frame.

This is why I am very happy to learn today that Secretary of State Dunlap, after reviewing all of the laws and issues relating to this new system, has concluded that current law does not allow a Ranked Choice system to be implemented for the June 12, 2018 election.

During the special session held last October, the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee, which I chair, passed LD 1646 out of committee where it was approved by both houses of the legislature and enacted into law.

This bill requires that “In a primary election held before December 1, 2021, the person who receives a plurality of the votes cast for nomination to any office, as long as there is at least one vote cast for that office, is nominated for that office.”

By requiring a “plurality of the votes” this new law makes the implementation of Ranked Choice prior to 2022 illegal in a primary election, including this June. Today, Secretary Dunlap has informed me that he has come to the same conclusion, that current law does not allow the implementation of Ranked Choice voting.

Rather than presenting his draft rules for this process to our committee this afternoon as he had intended, Secretary Dunlap will instead inform us these critical developments.

The secretary’s decision coupled with Republican efforts in the legislature will now prevent the spectacle of an election in Maine where voters choose certain candidates by Ranked Choice, while at the same time and in the same election, vote whether or not they want it. It was entirely conceivable that the voters could vote in June using Ranked Choice, and also vote to eliminate it, creating a crisis in confidence over the results of that election.

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