The Maine Republican Party’s federal lawsuit seeking to derail ranked-choice voting falls far short of principled resistance. It is 11th-hour mischief and should be withdrawn at once.
The suit against Secretary of State Matt Dunlap asks for an injunction to prevent the use of ranked-choice voting to decide Republican winners of the June 12 primaries.
That train left the station April 17 when the State Supreme Court allowed ranked-choice to be implemented, issuing the following decision: “Ranked-choice voting is the current statutory law of Maine for the primary elections to be held on June 12, 2018. The consistent and explicit purpose of the citizens’ initiative and the people’s veto has been to transition Maine elections to a system of ranked-choice voting.”
Nevertheless, delegates at the GOP State Convention last weekend voted to stick with the existing system in which the winner is the candidate who receives the most votes in a single round. Accordingly, the lawsuit seeks to halt vote tabulation after the first round. Under ranked-choice — currently the law of the land — voters rank candidates from first to last. There can be, as a result, several rounds until a majority winner emerges.
Ranked-choice voting is a complex issue. And voting results may not be available for days after the elections. But enough’s enough. The people who voted for it — twice — have spoken, the Maine Supreme Court has spoken, sample ballots have been published on the state’s website, and absentee voting starts in four days. The Republican lawsuit is sowing confusion at a time when the best interests of voters demand clarity. The party needs to step up and put a leash on its yapping dogs.