AUGUSTA, Maine — Supporters of ranked-choice voting on Friday made their argument for having a judge order the state to proceed with the system in the June primary elections just a day after Maine’s top election official raised concerns about a legal technicality.

Superior Court Justice Michaela Murphy suggested she has avenues for intervention but also indicated it might be better for lawmakers to resolve the matter.

Acknowledging a tight timetable for election officials, she indicated she’s rule on the request for a temporary restraining order in coming days.

Secretary of State Matt Dunlap warned Thursday that a conflict in language in statutes could sink plans for using the system without a last-minute fix. That remedy could come from lawmakers, who reconvene next week, or from the judge in her ruling.

Mainers approved the new voting concept in a statewide referendum in November 2016 but state lawmakers delayed its implementation.

More than 62,000 petitions were collected to temporarily halt the legislative delay pending a second statewide vote on June 12.

The ranked-choice system is designed to let voters rank their ballot choices from first to last in a system that ensures majority support for the winning candidate while eliminating the impact of spoilers and extremists who lack centrist appeal.

It works like this: A candidate who wins a majority is the winner. If there’s no majority, then the last place candidate is eliminated, and there are more tallies.

If it moves forward, then the system will be in place for statewide primary elections and for federal elections but not legislative and gubernatorial general elections because of concerns that it runs afoul of the Maine Constitution.


This story has been corrected to show ranked-choice voting applies to statewide primary elections and for federal elections.