Solemn Occasion Request on RCV Advanced by Maine Senate

By Jill Ward

In November, Maine voters passed Ranked Choice Voting into law. This was a citizen initiative powered by Maine people to give Maine voters more choice and more power in elections.

Today, the Maine Senate voted to ask the Maine Supreme Court to weigh in on the law. While there are competing opinions about the law’s constitutionality, the law as passed is presumed to be constitutional. Regular order dictates that the law is to be followed as passed. Dissatisfied candidates or voters may decide to challenge the law following an election and at that point the court would consider the question and issue a ruling as they see fit. That is how our political system works. Instead, the Maine Senate majority today asked for a Solemn Occasion[i] instead of allowing the process to proceed as usual. (The order was S.O. 12 and the text is here: http://www.mainelegislature.org/legis/bills/display_ps.asp?paper=SO12&PID=1456&snum=128)

In the League’s opinion, this undermines the will of Maine citizens, negates our voting power, and weakens the citizen initiative process. There is an established process to address issues of constitutionality, and the Senate should have followed it. To circumvent the regular order appears unnecessarily political and deliberately disenfranchises voters.

How your state senator voted on the solemn occasion:

Member Party           Vote
BELLOWS of Kennebec D N
BRAKEY of Androscoggin R Y
BREEN of Cumberland D N
CARPENTER of Aroostook D Y
CARSON of Cumberland D N
CHENETTE of York D N
CHIPMAN of Cumberland D N
COLLINS of York R Y
CUSHING of Penobscot R Y
CYRWAY of Kennebec R Y
DAVIS of Piscataquis R Y
DESCHAMBAULT of York D Y
DIAMOND of Cumberland D Y
DILL of Penobscot D Y
DION of Cumberland D N
DOW of Lincoln R Y
GRATWICK of Penobscot D Y
HAMPER of Oxford R Y
HILL of York D Y
JACKSON of Aroostook D N
KATZ of Kennebec R Y
KEIM of Oxford R E
LANGLEY of Hancock R Y
LIBBY of Androscoggin D Y
MAKER of Washington R Y
MASON of Androscoggin R Y
MILLETT of Cumberland D N
MIRAMANT of Knox D N
ROSEN of Hancock R Y
SAVIELLO of Franklin R Y
THIBODEAU of Waldo R Y
VITELLI of Sagadahoc D N
VOLK of Cumberland R Y
WHITTEMORE of Somerset R Y
WOODSOME of York R Y

[i] An opinion of the justices is issued when the Senate and House propound questions to the justices of the Supreme Judicial Court involving important questions of law in circumstances that present a solemn occasion. This process is authorized by article VI, section 3 of the Maine Constitution. From: http://www.courts.maine.gov/citizen_help/glossary.html accessed on 2/2/2017

 

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