In this Nov. 12, 2018 file photo, ballot boxes are brought into a room for a ranked-choice voting tabulation in Augusta. Credit: Robert F. Bukaty / AP

AUGUSTA, Maine — The state’s high court on Thursday denied the Maine Republican Party’s request to delay a ruling allowing the use of ranked-choice voting in this year’s presidential election as the party considers a last-ditch appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Barring a surprise, the most recent ruling ensures ranked-choice voting will be used in the contest between President Donald Trump, former Vice President Joe Biden and three minor-party candidates. It could be one of the final steps in the months-long battle over the Republican people’s veto challenge to the implementation of a 2019 law.

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court ruled last week that opponents of the law failed to get enough valid signatures to put a repeal question on the November ballot, which would have blocked the use of the voting method this fall, finding the the Maine Constitution requires petition circulators to be registered to vote in the city or town they live in before aiding ballot efforts.

But the party asked immediately for a delay, a request that was heard by the high court on Thursday as the Maine Republican Party said they plan to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. In an eight-page ruling upheld their previous ruling that the state’s determination on valid signatures was correct and that changing the rules now would harm the public’s interest.

Election season is already underway in Maine, with millions of ballots printed and some already in the hands of overseas and military voters. Absentee ballots are expected to arrive for some Maine voters this weekend. Secretary of State Matt Dunlap’s office said during the appeal arguments that changing the rules of the election now could disenfranchise those voters.