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Maine GOP to continue petition drive to block ranked voting

Despite coronavirus, the Maine GOP petition efforts continue with drive-through stop and sign events, hand sanitizer, and social distancing guidelines.

PORTLAND, Maine — The Maine Republican Party will move ahead with a petition drive to try to block a ranked form of voting as much of the state shuts down due to coronavirus.

Mainers are scheduled to use ranked choice voting in a presidential election for the first time in November. The voting system allows people to choose second choice candidates, and redistributes votes in a run-off style ranked round.

"It has become abundantly clear that the people of Maine must take the power of elections back into their own hands and restore faith and constitutionality into our electoral system," Maine GOP Chair, Demi Kouzounas, said in a statement earlier this month.

Portland was the first city in Maine to use ranked choice for mayoral races in 2011; a motion to expand RCV was on the Maine primary ballot in Portland, and overwhelmingly passed with nearly 80-percent of the vote.

Republican opponents of the voting method have been gathering signatures to try to force a people's veto vote about the law that allows ranked choice presidential elections. They need 63,000 signatures by June to get the veto on the ballot. If it's on the ballot, Maine won't use ranked choice for the presidential election this year.

Signature gatherers had been turning up at public events, such as Election Day polls, but Maine GOP Chair Demi Kouzounas said they will now bring petitions direct to potential signers. They will take necessary precautions in doing so, she said.

On Super Tuesday, the Maine GOP's efforts to gather signatures at polling locations were stunted by the City of Portland. Kouzounas accused the city of blocking efforts to gather signatures—so she and the party filed a temporary restraining order against the city manager and city clerk. 

“We are doing drive-through stop and sign events in areas where people can stop and sign while following social distancing guidelines, pens are single-use, hand sanitizer being used, everything is outside, etc.” Maine GOP executive director Jason Savage said. “Tactical shift.”

For most people, COVID-19 results in only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. People with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover, according to the World Health Organization.

Maine's the only state in the U.S. with RCV. Petitioners are about halfway to their signature goal, Maine GOP said.

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