Maine’s Ranked-Choice Voting Law: The text

CITIZEN REFERENDUM ON RANKED CHOICE VOTING
Language Approved by Secretary of State

Be it enacted by the People of the State of Maine as follows:

Sec. 1.  21-A MRSA §1, sub-§27-C is enacted to read:

27-C. Office elected by ranked-choice voting. “Office elected by ranked-choice voting” means any of the following offices: United States Senator, United States Representative to Congress, Governor, State Senator and State Representative, and includes any nominations by primary election to such offices.

Sec. 2.  21-A MRSA §1, sub-§35-A is enacted to read:
35-A. Ranked-choice voting. “Ranked-choice voting” means the method of casting and tabulating votes in which voters rank candidates in order of preference, tabulation proceeds in sequential rounds in which last-place candidates are defeated and the candidate with the most votes in the final round is elected.
 
Sec. 3.  21-A MRSA §601, sub-§2, ¶J is enacted to read:
J. For offices elected by ranked-choice voting, the ballot must be simple and easy to understand and allow a voter to rank candidates for an office in order of preference.  A voter may include no more than one write-in candidate among that voter’s ranked choices for each office.
Sec. 4. 21-A MRSA §722, sub-§1, as amended by PL 2009, c. 253, §36,  is  further amended to read:

1. How tabulated. The Secretary of State shall tabulate all votes that appear by an election return to have been cast for each question or candidate whose name appeared on the ballot. For offices elected by ranked-choice voting, the Secretary of State shall tabulate the votes according to the ranked-choice voting method described in section 723-A. The Secretary of State shall tabulate the votes that appear by an election return to have been cast for a declared write-in candidate and shall tabulate the votes that appear to have been cast for an undeclared write-in candidate based on a recount requested and conducted pursuant to section 737-A, subsection 2-A.

Sec. 5.  21-A MRSA §723-A is enacted to read:
§723-A. Determination of winner in election for an office elected by ranked-choice voting

1.
Definitions. As used in this section, unless the context otherwise indicates, the following terms have the following meanings.


    A.
“Batch elimination” means the simultaneous defeat of multiple candidates for whom it is mathematically impossible to be elected.

     B. “Continuing ballot” means a ballot that is not an exhausted ballot.

     C.
“Continuing candidate” means a candidate who has not been defeated.


     D.
“Exhausted ballot” means a ballot that does not rank any continuing candidate, contains an overvote at the highest continuing ranking or contains 2 or more sequential skipped rankings before its highest continuing ranking.


     E.
“Highest continuing ranking” means the highest ranking on a voter’s ballot for a continuing candidate.


     F. 
“Last-place candidate” means the candidate with the fewest votes in a round of the ranked-choice voting tabulation.


     G.
“Mathematically impossible to be elected,” with respect to a candidate, means either:


       (1) 
The candidate cannot be elected because the candidate’s vote total in a round of the ranked-choice voting tabulation plus all votes that could possibly be transferred to the candidate in future rounds from candidates with fewer votes or an equal number of votes would not be enough to surpass the candidate with the next-higher vote total in the round; or


      (2)
The candidate has a lower vote total than a candidate described in subparagraph (1).


      H.
“Overvote” means a circumstance in which a voter has ranked more than one candidate at the same ranking.


       I.
“Ranking” means the number assigned on a ballot by a voter to a candidate to express the voter’s preference for that candidate. Ranking number one is the highest ranking, ranking number 2 is the next-highest ranking and so on.


     J.
“Round” means an instance of the sequence of voting tabulation steps established in subsection 2.


     K.  
“Skipped ranking” means a circumstance in which a voter has left a ranking blank and ranks a candidate at a subsequent ranking.


2.  
Procedures. Except as provided in subsections 3 and 4, the following procedures are used to determine the winner in an election for an office elected by ranked-choice voting. Tabulation must proceed in rounds. In each round, the number of votes for each continuing candidate must be counted. Each continuing ballot counts as one vote for its highest-ranked continuing candidate for that round. Exhausted ballots are not counted for any continuing candidate. The round then ends with one of the following 2 potential outcomes.


     A.  
If there are 2 or fewer continuing candidates, the candidate with the most votes is declared the winner of the election.


     B.  
If there are more than 2 continuing candidates, the last-place candidate is defeated and a new round begins.


3.   
Ties. A tie under this section between candidates for the most votes in the final round or a tie between last-place candidates in any round must be decided by lot, and  the
candidate chosen by lot is defeated. The result of the tie resolution must be recorded and reused in the event of a recount. Election officials may resolve prospective ties between candidates before the election.

4.   Modification of ranked-choice voting ballot and tabulation. Modification of a ranked-choice voting ballot and tabulation is permitted in accordance with the following.

     A.  
The number of allowable rankings may be limited to no fewer than 6.


    B.  
Two or more candidates may be defeated simultaneously by batch elimination in any round of tabulation.

5.      Effect on rights of political parties. For all statutory and constitutional provisions in the State pertaining to the rights of political parties, the number of votes cast for a party’s candidate for an office elected by ranked-choice voting is the number of  votes credited to that candidate after the initial counting in the first round described in subsection 2.

6.   Application.  This section applies to elections held on or after January 1, 2018.

Sec. 6.  Application.  This Act applies to elections held on or after January 1, 2018.

SUMMARY
This initiated bill provides ranked-choice voting for the offices of United States Senator, United States Representative to Congress, Governor, State Senator and State Representative for elections held on or after January 1, 2018. Ranked-choice voting is a method of casting and tabulating votes in which voters rank candidates in order of preference, tabulation proceeds in rounds in which last-place candidates are defeated and the candidate with the most votes in the final round is elected.