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Maine Supreme Court rejects motion to put ranked-choice voting decision on hold

The Maine Supreme Court also said they "do not consider it likely" the petition to the U.S. Supreme Court will prevail.
Credit: AP
Jason Savage, executive director of the Maine GOP, speaks about efforts to repeal ranked-choice voting while standing next to boxes containing signed petitions near the State House, Monday, June 15, 2020, in Augusta, Maine. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

PORTLAND, Maine — Maine's highest court again shut down the Maine Republican Party (GOP) efforts to stop ranked-choice voting (RCV) from being implemented in the November 3 presidential election.

The Maine GOP-backed group filed a motion with the Maine Supreme Court on Thursday asking the court to put its previous decision to RCV on hold pending their petition to the U.S. Supreme Court to review the decision. 

Within hours of oral arguments Thursday, the court denied the motion, concluding that David Jones "has not satisfied the test for us to stay the effect of the mandate."

The court said the plaintiffs hadn’t met the legal test to support a delay in its decision, and said the public interest would not be harmed by a delay. 

Read the ruling here:

RELATED: Court rules in favor of Sec. of State clearing way for RCV in presidential election

On September 22, the Maine high court ruled in favor of Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap, clearing the way for RCV in the upcoming presidential election. The decision makes Maine the first state in U.S. history to implement RCV in a presidential election. 

Soon after the decision, the Maine GOP made clear they weren't backing down in their efforts, saying they intended to pursue a stay with the intent to take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court. 

With RCV, voters rank candidates in order of preference, and no winner is declared until one candidate receives at least 50 percent of the vote. The law to implement RCV in Maine in 2016. 

Opponents of RCV argue the law should remain "one person = one vote." 

In arguments on Thursday, the petitioner argued that he will suffer irreparable harm if the stay isn't granted, "because the ranked-choice voting law will be in effect for the November election despite what he contends are an adequate number of signatures in support of the people's veto petition."

The court admits that if the ranked-choice law were not properly in effect because of a valid people's veto petition, the public would have an interest in using non-ranked choice voting and having the opportunity to vote on the people's veto question. The court says "the balance of harms and the public interest, however, weigh against our grant of Jones's requested stay."

The Maine Supreme Court also said they "do not consider it likely" the petition to the U.S. Supreme Court will prevail, "especially given the limited record presented with respect to the First Amendment challenge through judicial review of the Secretary of State’s decision and the ongoing printing, distribution, and return of ranked-choice ballots."

Another reason the court rejected the stay is because, "more than a million ballots" have already been printed with RCV, the court says, "and in some instances, ballots have been sent out to, and returned by, voters."

The Maine GOP tells NEWS CENTER Maine they are moving forward with their plan to take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

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