Maine is on track to become the first state to use ranked-choice voting in a general presidential election after the state’s governor said Friday she’ll give the go-ahead to a bill to implement the system.
But Gov. Janet Mills, a Democrat, said she wouldn’t sign the legislation, instead allowing it to become law without her signature in January 2020 in time for the general election. That will keep old rules in place for the state’s March presidential primary.
“My experience with ranked-choice voting is that it gives voters a greater voice and it encourages civility among campaigns and candidates at a time when such civility is sorely needed,” Mills said in a memo to the state lawmakers. “At the same time, there are serious questions about the cost and logistics of ranked-choice voting... By not signing this bill now, I am giving the Legislature an opportunity to appropriate funds and to take any other appropriate action.”
In the ranked-choice voting system, voters list their order of preference. If all candidates fail to nab 50% of the vote, the last-place candidate is eliminated and the second-choice selections of voters who placed that candidate first receive their votes. The process of elimination continues until a candidate gets to 50%.
“Ranked choice voting for president in Maine is an historic first,” said FairVote president and CEO Rob Richie in a news release. FairVote advocates ranked-choice voting.
In 2018, Maine became the first state to use the system in statewide primary races and federal elections. Voters in the state first backed ranked-choice in a 2016 referendum.
A number of U.S. cities, including Cambridge, Mass., and San Francisco, Calif., use ranked-choice voting for some elections. Countries that use the system include Australia and Ireland.
With News Wire Services