In this Nov. 12, 2018, file photo, ranked-choice voting ballots are prepared for tabulation in Augusta. Credit: Robert F. Bukaty / AP

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The Maine Republican Party will move ahead with a petition drive to try to block ranked-choice voting as much of the state shuts down due to the coronavirus.

Mainers are scheduled to use ranked choice voting in a presidential election for the first time in November. The voting system allows people to choose second choice candidates, and redistributes votes in an instant run-off.

Republican opponents of the voting method have been gathering signatures to try to force a people’s veto vote about the law that allows ranked-choice voting presidential elections. They need 63,000 signatures by June to get the veto on the ballot. If it’s on the ballot, Maine won’t use ranked-choice voting for the presidential election this year.

Signature gatherers had been turning up at public events, such as Election Day polls, but Maine GOP Chair Demi Kouzounas said they will now bring petitions directly to potential signers. They will take necessary precautions in doing so, she said.

“We are doing drive-through stop and sign events in areas where people can stop and sign while following social distancing guidelines, pens are single-use, hand sanitizer being used, everything is outside, etc.” Maine GOP executive director Jason Savage said. “Tactical shift.”

For most people, COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus, results in only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. People with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover, according to the World Health Organization.

Maine is the only state in the U.S. with ranked-choice voting. Petitioners are about half way to their signature goal, Maine GOP said.