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The man who lives in the Blaine House in Augusta, Maine, was, for many, a sneak preview of the 45th president of the United States. Like Donald Trump, Republican Gov. Paul LePage has transformed the face of government with his politically incorrect brand of conservatism — and he did it despite winning less than a majority of votes. LePage won a seven-way Republican primary for governor in 2010 with 37 percent of the vote, and he beat a Democrat and three independents in the general with just 38 percent.
Eight years later, it's far from clear that LePage would have a path to victory if he were running now in the Republican primary for governor. That's because, partly in response to LePage's plurality wins, Maine on Tuesday will become the first state to use ranked-choice voting to decide a statewide election. So not only are there races in Maine we'll be watching, but the process matters too. And if Maine voters don't pass an initiative reauthorizing the voting method at the same time, this real-life political-science experiment will be cut short.
The question of keeping ranked-choice in place for future primaries and Congressional races in the general election led 54-46 percent with 57% of precincts reporting at 12:05 AM EDT.
Maine's Governor Paul LePage has threatened to not certify the results, but that doesn't matter according to Maine's Secretary of State:
Gov. LePage on Tuesday says he "probably" won't certify results from the voter-approved ranked-choice voting system.
Maine law requires the secretary of state to tabulate results and get them to the governor within 20 days of an election. The governor "shall" certify them within a reasonable time period, but Secretary of State Matt Dunlap, a Democrat, said this only applies to state general elections and not primaries. "He can bluster all he wants, but he can't change the results," Dunlap said.
Common Dreams reports
Election reform advocates on [April 18] praised a decision by Maine's Supreme Court, upholding the use of ranked-choice voting for the state's upcoming primary elections, saying the ruling demonstrated that the court heeded the demands of Maine voters.
[...]Unlike in traditional voting, in which the candidate with the largest share of votes wins--even if he or she is far from capturing a majority of the support--in ranked choice voting, voters rank each candidate in order of preference. If no candidate has a majority after the first count, the least-popular contender is eliminated, voters' ballots are added to the totals of their second-ranked candidates, and the ballots are recounted. The eliminations and recounts continue until one candidate has a majority.
Supporters of the system say it increases voter turnout and proportional representation.
Maine's June 12 multi-party primary elections, in which voters will choose candidates for governor and congressional districts, will now make history as the first state election to use ranked-choice voting.
Fifty-two percent of Maine voters supported the system in a November 2016 ballot initiative, but lawmakers passed a bill last year delaying its implementation until December 2021 and argued that the state could not use a new voting system without direction from the legislature. The state Senate also threatened to repeal ranked-choice voting altogether if it could not pass a constitutional amendment by then.
More than 77,000 Maine residents signed a petition saying any repeal of the system by the legislature should be voided.
"The Maine legislature has changed or repealed all four of the initiatives passed by Maine voters in 2016", said Kyle Bailey of the Committee for Ranked Choice Voting in a statement on Tuesday. "Today's decision by the Maine Supreme Court confirms that the Maine people are sovereign and have the final say."
The Portland Press Herald, Maine's largest circulation daily newspaper, has extensive background details in their April 17th story: Ranked-choice voting will be used for June primaries, Maine supreme court rules.