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June 2018 Maine Question 1

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Question 1: People's veto
Do you want to reject the parts of a new law that would delay the use of ranked-choice voting in the election of candidates for any state or federal office until 2022, and then retain the method only if the constitution is amended by December 1, 2021, to allow ranked-choice voting for candidates in state elections?
Votes %
Yes 149,900 53.88%
No 128,291 46.12%
Valid votes 278,191 98.82%
Invalid or blank votes 3,330 1.18%
Total votes 281,521 100.00%

Results by counties
Office of the Secretary of State of Maine, Tabulation of Votes

Maine Question 1 was a people's veto referendum that appeared on the June 12, 2018 statewide ballot. It sought to reject a law passed by the Maine Legislature that suspended the implementation of ranked-choice voting, authorized by Maine voters in a previous referendum, for use in Maine elections until and if an amendment to the Maine Constitution is passed to expressly permit it; failing that, the law would be automatically repealed in 2021. It qualified because supporters of the original referendum collected the necessary number of signatures from registered Maine voters. This vote coincided with primary elections in which party nominees for governor, U.S. Senate, U.S. House, and the Maine Legislature were chosen through RCV to run in general elections on November 6.

The people's veto was passed, with 53.88% of Maine voters voting Yes. This restored ranked choice voting for primary and federal elections.


On November 8, 2016, Maine voters passed Question 5, a citizen referendum to implement ranked-choice voting (RCV). Supporters expected RCV to be in place for 2018's elections, but on May 23, 2017, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court issued an advisory opinion at the request of the Maine Senate[1] stating that RCV in general elections for state offices would be held unconstitutional if it came before the court.[2] The opinion did not affect elections for federal offices or primary elections for state offices. RCV opponents subsequently called for the law establishing RCV to be repealed, while supporters called for a vote on a constitutional amendment to permit the law. On October 23, 2017, the Legislature voted to delay implementation of the RCV law for all races until 2021. If a constitutional amendment was not passed by that point, the law would be repealed.[3]

Unhappy with the delay, RCV supporters launched a people's veto signature-gathering effort to prevent it, pointing to RCV's successful use in mixed-race ballots in Portland. On November 6, 2017, the petition forms were approved after Governor Paul LePage waited the full 10 days he is permitted by law to allow the delay to take effect without his signature.[4][5] On November 12, the effort's leaders said they had collected half the signatures needed and set a goal of finishing by December 15, though by law they had 90 days from when they started.[6]

On February 2, 2018, RCV Maine turned in over 80,000 signatures to Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap for verification. The signatures were gathered despite the coldest weather in years occurring during the gathering period. This suspended the Legislature's delay of RCV pending the outcome of the vote, meaning it would be used in the June primary elections. Dunlap said his office was exploring strategies for implementation of RCV but that it was challenging since the Legislature had not given him additional resources.[7]

On March 5, Dunlap announced that approximately 66,000 signatures had been verified, more than the 61,000 needed to place a question on the ballot.[8]

The question that appeared on the ballot was "Do you want to reject the parts of a new law that would delay the use of ranked-choice voting in the election of candidates for any state or federal office until 2022, and then retain the method only if the constitution is amended by December 1, 2021, to allow ranked-choice voting for candidates in state elections?"[9]

RCV status[edit]

A people's veto effort suspends the law under dispute until the result of the vote is determined. Supporters asserted this means that the law voters passed in 2016 establishing RCV should be implemented in a manner consistent with the Maine Supreme Judicial Court ruling. On March 29, 2018, Dunlap told a Maine Legislature committee hearing that in this case that means the original law is in effect, requiring the original first-past-the-post system for the upcoming primaries, unless the Legislature passes an emergency change to the law or a court tells him otherwise. Dunlap said he needed clarity on the issue by April 2 so overseas ballots could be printed and sent as federal law requires. Passage of a new law seemed unlikely, as it would need a 2/3 vote to pass the Legislature as an emergency measure. Maine Attorney General Janet T. Mills urged the Legislature to pass a new law, saying that the signers of the people's veto petition should not be thwarted by a technicality. RCV supporters said they would seek a court injunction to order the use of RCV.[10] On April 4, Judge Michaela Murphy ruled that Dunlap should proceed with efforts to implement RCV for the June primaries while the issues with the law are heard by the courts.[11]

In a separate case, the Maine Senate voted 21-13 to direct Senate President Michael Thibodeau to seek intervenor status with the court in the RCV case. Majority Senate Republicans claim that Thibodeau would have standing to intervene as the Senate has a duty to defend the Maine Constitution. They additionally argued that the Legislature has not approved funding specifically for RCV, and that chaos could result if losing candidates in elections began to file lawsuits over the use of RCV. Democrats rejected those arguments, stating that Republicans were cherry-picking parts of the Constitution and ignoring the parts that permit citizens to pass laws at the ballot box, and pointed out that Dunlap has the authority and funding to hold elections in general. They added that the Senate is only part of the legislative branch and that more would be needed for standing.[12]

On April 18, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court removed the last legal roadblocks to using RCV in primary elections, upholding the lower court ruling. It also declined to hear Thibodeau's appeal, saying it would not hear a political dispute from one half of one body of the Legislature.[13]

On May 4, the Maine Republican Party filed a federal lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Bangor seeking to bar the use of RCV in its own primary, on the grounds that the party has a First Amendment right to choose its nominee as it sees fit.[14] U.S. District Court Judge Jon Levy rejected the suit on May 29.[15]





The Bangor Daily News called the vote for the Yes side just after midnight on election night.[26] RCV was subsequently implemented for the November general elections for Maine's two congressional districts.

Breakdown of voting by county
County Yes Votes No Votes
Androscoggin 46.88% 8,300 53.12% 9,408
Aroostook 47.25% 4,870 52.74% 5,436
Cumberland 60.39% 43,741 39.23% 28,240
Franklin 48.08% 3,104 50.63% 3,184
Hancock 58.83% 8,084 41.16% 5,657
Kennebec 51.49% 13,321 48.50% 12,548
Knox 59.52% 6,066 40.47% 4,124
Lincoln 54.99% 5,322 45.00% 4,356
Oxford 48.33% 5,729 51.66% 6,124
Penobscot 46.55% 11,820 53.44% 13,567
Piscataquis 42.32% 1,375 57.67% 1,874
Sagadahoc 55.62% 4,996 44.37% 3,985
Somerset 43.38% 3,701 56.61% 4,830
Waldo 56.33% 5,238 43.66% 4,060
Washington 46.19% 2,459 53.80% 2,864
York 54.58% 21,635 45.41% 18,000
UOCAVA 80.34% 139 19.65% 34
Total 53.88% 149,900 46.12% 128,291


  1. ^ "Maine Senate Asks High Court for Opinion on Voter-Approved Ranked-Choice Initiative". MPBN. 3 February 2017. Retrieved February 3, 2017.
  2. ^ "Opinion of the Justices of the Supreme Judicial Court". 23 May 2017.
  3. ^ "Ranked choice voting delayed until 2021". WCSH6.com. 2017-10-23. Retrieved 2017-12-20.[permanent dead link]
  4. ^ "Backers of ranked-choice voting say they'll fight the lawmakers' delay". 23 May 2017.
  5. ^ "Ranked-choice voting supporters to begin 'people's veto' campaign today". 6 November 2017.
  6. ^ "Campaign to restore Maine ranked-choice voting collects over half the signatures needed for a people's veto". 12 November 2017.
  7. ^ "Ranked-choice voters submit signatures for 'people's veto' ballot initiative". 2 February 2018.
  8. ^ "Mainers To Test Ranked-Choice Voting While Deciding Whether To Keep It". 3 March 2018.
  9. ^ Department of the Secretary of State, Bureau of Corporations, Elections, and Commissions
  10. ^ "Dunlap: Ranked-Choice Voting Can't Be Used In June Primaries Unless Lawmakers Or Courts Act". 29 March 2018.
  11. ^ "Judge orders state to use ranked-choice voting for June primaries, but disputes continue". 4 April 2018.
  12. ^ "Maine Senate takes unusual step of asking court to hear its concerns about ranked-choice voting". 2 April 2018.
  13. ^ "Ranked-Choice Voting To Be Implemented For June Primaries, But Political Struggles Continue". 18 April 2018.
  14. ^ a b Leary, Mal (May 4, 2018). "GOP Files Suit To Block Ranked-Choice Voting". MPBN. Retrieved May 7, 2018.
  15. ^ Leary, Mal (May 29, 2018). "Judge: Maine GOP Must Use Ranked-Choice Voting In Primary". MPBN. Retrieved May 30, 2018.
  16. ^ "Area representative urges yes vote on Question 1 for Ranked Choice Voting". Piscatiquis Observer. May 24, 2018. Retrieved May 28, 2018.
  17. ^ "King Says He's Supporting Ranked-Choice Voting Referendum". MPBN. June 5, 2018. Retrieved June 6, 2018.
  18. ^ "The politicians say no but Jennifer Lawrence says YES ON QUESTION 1. Vote today or on June 12 to protect ranked choice voting". Twitter. May 31, 2018. Retrieved June 1, 2018.
  19. ^ "Former Republican State Senator Peter Mills supports Ranked Choice Voting". Facebook. Retrieved June 9, 2018.
  20. ^ "Jill Stein Joins Push to Save Ranked-Choice Voting in Maine". U.S. News & World Report. November 17, 2017. Retrieved May 28, 2018.
  21. ^ "Our View: There's no trick to ranked-choice voting, so vote 'yes' on Question 1". 2018-06-07.
  22. ^ "Vote For Me! For Second Place, at Least?". MPBN. June 9, 2018. Retrieved June 9, 2018.
  23. ^ "No on Question 1: Constitutional questions still plague ranked-choice voting". Bangor Daily News. May 25, 2018. Retrieved May 26, 2018.
  24. ^ "Sen. Ron Collins: Vote no on Question 1 to protect the integrity of Maine elections". Kennebec Journal. June 4, 2018. Retrieved June 9, 2018.
  25. ^ "Governor denounces 'horrific' ranked-choice voting, says he may not certify election results". WCSH 6. June 12, 2018. Retrieved June 12, 2018.
  26. ^ "Maine again backs ranked-choice voting". Bangor Daily News. June 12, 2018. Retrieved June 13, 2018.

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