It’s said that new ideas are accepted in three stages. First, they are ridiculed. Then, they are aggressively opposed. And finally, they are accepted as self-evident.
Through two volunteer signature drives, two winning statewide campaigns, and three successful lawsuits, the people of Maine have proven to one another and to any forces that would stand in their way that we have the power to help fix a broken political system and create a better future for our children and our grandchildren.
In May, U.S. District Court Judge Jon D. Levy threw out a last-ditch effort to block implementation of Maine’s ranked-choice voting law on 1st Amendment grounds.
On Thursday, the US District Court for Maine in Bangor ruled that, in no uncertain terms and with no contingencies or cautions, that the people have the freedom under the US Constitution to choose the way we elect our leaders. Judge Lance E. Walker rejected all claims raised by 2nd Congressional District Rep. Bruce Poliquin, his attorneys, and his expert witness.
The court’s order cited not only the U.S. Constitution but also drew from the Federalist Papers and an abundance of legal precedent to make it crystal clear that ranked-choice voting meets both the equal protection and due process tests of the 14th Amendment by upholding the principle of “one person, one vote.”
The court also rejected the absurd notion that states are somehow required by the federal government to use a pick-one, first-past-the-post voting system. Its conclusive defense of the constitutionality of ranked-choice voting will certainly stand up to any appeal.
Now that every conceivable constitutional challenge to the people-approved voting system has been argued and favorably decided, we predict that ranked-choice voting will sweep the nation.
On Nov. 8, 2016, Maine voters across the political spectrum joined forces and rejected the old first-past-the-post voting system that had wreaked havoc on our politics. On June 12, 2018, Maine voters once again went to the polls and by an even wider margin than before affirmed this change for more voice and more choice in our democracy.
The bold and courageous action by the Maine people to lead the nation in bringing forth this profound change prompted some powerful political and special interests in Augusta and in Washington to lash out. These interests feared that ranked-choice voting would put more power in the hands of the people, thus shifting it away from those who had spent years, even decades, accumulating it. With every attempt they made to squash this stunningly right reform, opponents only succeeded in making the people stronger and more resilient.
Conservative columnist David Brooks was spot on when he wrote earlier this year that ranked-choice voting is “the one reform to save America.” The Economist, too, was right when it predicted that America should “get ready to rank.”
Ranked-choice voting won’t solve all our problems, but it is something that the Maine people can be proud to have enacted and elevated to the national stage to help fix a broken system. We hope that, together, we have lit a path and blazed a trail for other Americans to follow.
Kyle Bailey is the campaign manager and Cara Brown McCormick is the treasurer for the Committee for Ranked Choice Voting.