Rock star Jon Fishman has spent most of his life pursuing musical interests, but on Sunday in Portland he devoted his time to an entirely different cause: promoting what he believes are the virtues of ranked-choice voting.

Fishman, a drummer, lyricist and vocalist for the band Phish, showed up at the Bayside Bowl, where he helped gather signatures to resurrect ranked-choice voting in Maine.

After doing that and mingling with his fans, Fishman took to the stage at the bowling alley and performed with soul-jam band Hambone, Bayside Bowl’s house band. During his performance, fans took photos of the celebrity.

“I don’t really have too many political ambitions beyond serving my local community,” Fishman, who lives in Lincolnville and is on the town’s Board of Selectmen, said during a break. “But as a citizen, I feel a great deal of frustration. The people voted for ranked-choice voting.”

“It’s shocking to me that our Republican governor and our legislators can go against the will of the people. It’s infuriating,” he added.

In November 2016, Maine voters overwhelmingly voted to implement ranked-choice voting. But in October 2017 the Legislature voted to delay the law until December 2021 and to repeal it if the Maine Constitution isn’t amended to deal with legal concerns raised by the Maine Supreme Judicial Court.

Those actions by legislators led to a creation of a citizen petition drive, which if successful will get a people’s veto to restore ranked-choice voting on the June ballot. The Committee for Ranked Choice Voting has until Feb. 2 to submit signatures to the Maine Secretary of State’s Office. The campaign must collect at least 61,123 signatures from registered voters.

“When people speak as loudly as they did during the election in 2016 about the importance of their democracy, we need to stand up, take notice and do something about it,” Fishman said. “It is not OK to ignore the will of the people.”

“His presence speaks to the seriousness of all people wanting a democracy that works,” said Kyle Bailey, campaign manager for the Committee on Ranked Choice Voting.

Under the ranked-choice voting system, voters rank candidates in order of preference. If no one had more than 50 percent of the vote after the first count, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated. The process continues until one candidate achieves a clear majority and is declared the winner.

Maine’s Constitution calls for candidates to be elected by a plurality, in which the candidate with the most votes wins, even if it is less than a majority.

Bailey and Cara Brown-McCormick, the campaign treasurer, said Fishman helped collect more than 250 signatures at Bayside Bowl. The campaign now has more than 55,000 signatures with three weeks left to go.

“He (Fishman) contacted us about a week ago and asked how he could help,” Brown-McCormick said.

She said Phish recently performed three sold-out concerts at Madison Square Garden in New York.

“This is really awesome that he came here to help us,” she said.

Fishman said investing his time and energy in a cause that will benefit his family was well worth the effort. He and his wife moved from Vermont to Lincolnville in 2006. They have five children.

Fishman, 52, has been the drummer for Phish since it was formed in 1983 at the University of Vermont.

Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

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