AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) - After winning approval in a statewide referendum, ranked choice voting is now facing another hurdle as its constitutionality is put up for consideration by the Maine Supreme Court.
The court heard more than an hour of arguments on the issue on Thursday morning. The Maine Senate asked the justices for an opinion on the law's constitutionality. Because of the ramifications on elections, interest in the case is huge as demonstrated by the packed courtroom.
The Maine constitution says elections are won by plurality, while ranked choice voting puts greater emphasis on finding a majority winner.
Supporters of ranked choice voting said the court should not review ranked choice voting at all. By winning approval in a referendum, they argued that ranked choice voting is already a law. The court does not normally offer opinions on laws until lawsuits challenging them have been filed.
The justices will likely take a few weeks to make decisions. They could say they wont review the issue further, or they could offer their opinions on constitutionality ranked choice voting.
Whatever decision the court makes, the State Legislature will need to address the issue. Legislative action could include allocation of several million dollars to build the computer system to process the data for ranked choice voting. Or legislators might try to amend the constitution to make it compatible with the new law. And if no agreement on ranked choice voting is reached by the legislature, its implementation could remain in limbo for a while.