April 16, 2020
AUGUSTA – The Committee for Ranked Choice Voting 2020 today filed suit to protect the new state law that adopted ranked-choice voting for the November presidential election.
“Maine voters have spoken on ranked-choice voting twice, but some politicians refuse to listen,” said David Farmer, a spokesperson for The Committee for Ranked Choice Voting. “The Maine Constitution is clear. You cannot use a veto petition on a law that has already taken effect.”
Three Maine voters also joined the lawsuit: Republican Clare Payne of Brooksville, Democrat Phil Steele of Portland, and unenrolled voter Frannie Babb of Sumner.
“Ranked-choice voting for presidential elections is the law of the State of Maine, and the use of the People’s Veto to repeal this law is unconstitutional,” said Clare Payne, a retired attorney and member of the Maine Heritage Policy Center.
According to the lawsuit, which was filed in Kennebec County Superior Court, the law expanding ranked-choice voting became effective on Jan. 12, 2020. The law expanding ranked-choice voting was passed by the Legislature in 2019 and became law three days after the Legislature returned in January 2020 after Gov. Janet Mills withheld her signature.
The Maine Constitution limits the use of veto petitions to bills that have not yet become law. The ranked-choice voting law was already in force before opponents filed the application for a veto petition. The Constitution provides a different process for changing existing laws.
“While we believe the Secretary of State was operating in good faith and with a commitment to err on the side of caution, we do not believe that this veto petition is constitutional,” Farmer said.
In addition, the lawsuit also contends that the Secretary of State has allowed RCV opponents an inappropriate amount of time to collect signatures, which conflicts with limits on signature gathering for a veto petition.
Payne added, “Two years ago, during one of the coldest winters in decades, I stood outside in subzero temperatures along with Republicans, Democrats and independents across Maine. Together, we collected more than 80,000 signatures in just 88 days for the veto petition that protected ranked-choice voting.”