An Act To Require That the Governor, Senators and Members of the House of Representatives Be Elected by the Ranked-choice Voting Method
Sec. 1. 21-A MRSA §1, sub-§27-C is enacted to read:
Sec. 2. 21-A MRSA §1, sub-§35-A is enacted to read:
Sec. 3. 21-A MRSA §601, sub-§2, ¶J is enacted to read:
Instructions on the ballot must conform substantially to the following specifications, subject to usability testing and modification based on ballot design and voting machine:
"Vote for candidates by indicating your first-choice candidate and ranking additional candidates in order of preference. Indicate your first choice by marking the number "1" beside a candidate's name, your 2nd choice by marking the number "2" beside a candidate's name, your 3rd choice by marking the number "3" beside a candidate's name and so on. You may choose to rank only one candidate, but ranking another candidate as a lower choice will not hurt your first choice. You may rank the candidate more than once, but the additional ranking does not help that candidate. Do not mark the same number beside more than one candidate. Do not skip numbers."
Sec. 4. 21-A MRSA §603, sub-§1, ¶C is enacted to read:
Sec. 5. 21-A MRSA §603, sub-§7 is enacted to read:
Sec. 6. 21-A MRSA §625, as amended by PL 2009, c. 538, §7, is further amended by adding at the end a new paragraph to read:
The clerk shall post a sample ballot in or near each voting booth on election day.
Sec. 7. 21-A MRSA §722, sub-§1, as amended by PL 2009, c. 253, §36, is further amended to read:
Sec. 8. 21-A MRSA §723, sub-§2, as amended by PL 2009, c. 253, §39, is further amended to read:
Sec. 9. 21-A MRSA §726 is enacted to read:
§ 726. Ranked-choice voting method
Sec. 10. 21-A MRSA §753-B, sub-§1, as amended by PL 2011, c. 399, §22, is further amended to read:
Sec. 11. Statutory referendum procedure; submission at election; form of question; effective date. This Act must be submitted to the legal voters of the State at a statewide election held in the month of November following passage of this Act. The municipal officers of this State shall notify the inhabitants of their respective cities, towns and plantations to meet, in the manner prescribed by law for holding a statewide election, to vote on the acceptance or rejection of this Act by voting on the following question:
"Do you favor electing the Governor, Senators and Members of the House of Representatives by the ranked-choice voting method?"
The legal voters of each city, town and plantation shall vote by ballot on this question and designate their choice by a cross or check mark placed within a corresponding square below the word "Yes" or "No." The ballots must be received, sorted, counted and declared in open ward, town and plantation meetings and returns made to the Secretary of State in the same manner as votes for members of the Legislature. The Governor shall review the returns. If a majority of the legal votes are cast in favor of this Act, the Governor shall proclaim the result without delay and this Act becomes effective 30 days after the date of the proclamation.
The Secretary of State shall prepare and furnish to each city, town and plantation all ballots, returns and copies of this Act necessary to carry out the purposes of this referendum.
This bill creates the ranked-choice voting method of determining winners in elections for Governor, Senators and Members of the House of Representatives. The method simulates the ballot counts that would occur if all voters participated in a series of run-off elections and allows a voter to rank candidates according to that voter's preferences. Each voter has only one vote and the ballot count is the same as would occur if voters participated in a series of run-off elections, with the candidate with the fewest votes eliminated after each round of counting.
There is an initial round of counting. If more than 2 candidates have received votes after the initial round, the Secretary of State conducts a second round. In this second round, the Secretary of State eliminates the candidate with the fewest votes. A ballot that ranks this eliminated candidate as the highest-ranked candidate is counted as a vote for the highest-ranked advancing candidate on that ballot. An advancing candidate is a candidate who has not been eliminated. This process of counting votes and eliminating the candidate with the fewest votes continues until 2 candidates remain. The candidate with the most votes is declared the winner.
The bill requires that the question of electing the Governor, Senators and Members of the House of Representatives in this manner go to a statewide referendum to have the citizens of the State vote on the matter.