Last November, Maine’s voters overwhelmingly approved Question 5, for ranked-choice voting, allowing voters to rank all candidates rather than simply picking one.

On May 23, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court issued an advisory opinion stating that ranked-choice voting is permissible in state primaries and all federal elections, but violates the Maine Constitution in general elections for state offices. The court acknowledged the validity of the citizen-initiated process, but even portions of such democratic processes can be unconstitutional.

There are 10 elections that Question 5 addressed: five primary elections for state representatives, state senators, governor, U.S. representative and U.S. senator, and five general elections for those same offices. The court’s decision prohibits ranked-choice voting in only three of those elections: general elections for governor, state representatives and state senators.

Our concern is that the legislators and local officials take immediate steps to implement ranked-choice voting for the next elections in Maine for the seven elections not excluded by the advisory opinion. Those are for primaries for all the five above itemized offices, and for general elections of the federal offices of U.S. senator and U.S. representative. Such measures are critical to implement completely this system that would address the mandate of our voters’ choice.

We urge resolution with all due speed, a necessity for three reasons: so that we Maine voters will have clarity and certainty as to the parameters of the next election; so that local election officials will have certainty and clear instructions for implementing and printing materials for the next elections; and so potential candidates can know and appraise their options and chances of success.

Anne Vaughan and Niles Schore