Two interesting facts have emerged from the state Republican Party’s lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of ranked-choice voting, which, absent a last-minute intervention by the U.S. District Court, will be used for the first time in a statewide election in Maine’s June 12 primary.

One is that the Maine Republican Party selects its own state officers with a series of runoffs that is a functional twin to the same ranked-choice voting law that the party charges would violate its members’ rights.

The other is that the law the Republicans are trying to preserve was put in place through the referendum process by reform-minded citizens who were fed up with the electoral choices that a tight circle of party insiders was giving them. That’s right – the law they want to keep on the books got there the same way as ranked-choice voting.

Opponents have made outlandish claims about how weird and heavy-handed they find this reform. But ranked-choice voting is no weirder than any other runoff system, and it is no more of an overreach than the law that forced parties to hold primaries in the first place.

Fortunately, voters will get a chance to see the truth for themselves.

The June 12 election won’t just be a second chance for voters to say “yes” or “no” on whether ranked-choice voting should be state law in future primaries for state and federal offices, and in general elections for U.S. House and Senate. It will also give voters an opportunity to test drive the process.

The law will be in effect for any race that has more than two candidates, which includes the Democratic and Republican primaries for governor, the Democratic primary for Congress in the 2nd District and the Republican primary in Maine House District 75, where there are three candidates.

Maine candidate primaries are open only to voters who are registered with a party, but nonparty voters who want to participate in a party primary join a party at any time up to Election Day. People who are already members of a party but who want to vote in a different primary have until Friday to change their registration in time for June 12.

Voters who fill out a ballot will find that there is nothing confusing about asking themselves, “Who would I want to win the election if my favorite weren’t in the race?”

Some voters won’t care, and they can make a mark by only one candidate’s name. Others will have preferences among the rest of the field. Some will want to make sure they fill out the whole ballot so they can put a candidate they don’t like last.

But once they have gone through the process, they won’t fall for some of the arguments that have been floated these past months.


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