Saturday, December 15, 2018

Ranked voting survives legal challenge in Maine

Federal Judge Upholds Maine's Ranked-Choice Voting - Hit & Run : - Scott Shackford:

December 13, 2018 - "In the November midterms, incumbent Republican Rep. Bruce Poliquin won the first round of votes against Democratic challenger Jared Golden. But he did not get more than 50 percent of the votes.... Under Maine's new election rules, put into place by the voters, a candidate for Congress must get a majority of the votes....

"Maine voters are asked to rank the candidates in order of preference. If no candidate gets a majority vote, the candidate who received the least votes is eliminated [and] for those who voted for the eliminated candidate, their second choice is counted.... In Maine, ... that pushed Golden ahead to narrowly win with 50.6 percent of the vote. Poliquin sued to try to stop the vote count, challenging the constitutionality of ranked-choice voting.

"U.S. District Court Judge Lance Walker, appointed by President Donald Trump, roundly rejected Poliquin's suit.... Poliquin ... had argued that Article 1, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution calls for plurality voting. But it does not.....

"Walker also rejected an argument ... that the system violated the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.... The plaintiffs only voted for Poliquin and declined to rank the other candidates, which ... [t]hey argued ... meant that their votes had less 'weight'.... This made little sense and the judge rejected it. They chose not to rank the other candidates, but the option was presented. And during each round, each person's vote counted only once....

"So it looks like Maine's ranked-choice voting system is here to stay..... Maine voters actually wanted to use it for ... statewide races and state lawmaker races too. But ... to comply with the voter-approved ballot initiative, lawmakers need to amend the state's Constitution. Right now state Republicans have been resistant. We'll see if this ruling gets them to accept the public's will."

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