AUGUSTA (AP) – Republican Senate leaders say they will ask the state’s highest court to weigh in on the constitutionality of a new voting scheme approved by voters last fall.

Democratic Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap said he supports the effort to ensure that implementation of the law can proceed properly.

Ranked-choice voting would let Maine residents rank their ballot choices from first to last. It’s a system that supporters say would ensure that a candidate wins majority support while eliminating the impact of spoilers and rejecting party extremists who lack centrist appeal.

The Supreme Judicial Court can issue advisory opinions to the governor or Legislature on legal issues of high public importance.

Republican Senate President Michael Thibodeau said legal guidance is needed to protect Maine elections because ranked-choice voting may require amending the state’s constitution, which refers to a “plurality of votes” – more votes than any other candidate but not an absolute majority – deciding elections.

“This isn’t about whether you support ranked-choice voting, it’s about making sure we don’t throw our election system into turmoil,” he said.

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