According to an email blast (which you can also read here) from the Maine Green Independent Party, who worked hard to get that referendum on the ballot and passed, LD 1646 has passed both houses of the Legislature, bearing the title "An Act to Implement Ranked Choice Voting in 2021."
That title would seem to indicate that RCV will happen, although not in time for the next gubernatorial election as the voters had been led to believe. However, there is a multitude of tiny devils in the details.
This bill, supported by members of both the Democratic and Republican parties, "sabotages the citizen referendum on ranked choice voting," said [state co-chairs Jon] Olsen and [Riva] O'Rourke. "This vote severely damages our first-in-the nation statewide effort to initiate RCV, and may have dealt it a fatal blow."
While the bill in name implements RCV in 2021, in truth it does nothing of the sort, as many dissenting but ultimately unsuccessful legislators noted. Rather, it places obligations on future legislatures. Unless, by Dec. 1, 2021, the constitution is amended, RCV is completely repealed. The MGIP believes this is unacceptable.
“We intend to oppose vigorously those legislators who voted to sabotage the referendum vote,” said Olsen and O’Rourke. Already, in part due to the legislature’s failure to implement the people’s will, State Rep. Ralph Chapman (G—Brooksville) has switched from Democrat to Green Independent. Greens welcome any other Democrats to join us in our efforts.
This item from the Ellsworth American points out that implementation will not happen in time for local elections in 2021, and that, per the language of the referendum, it requires an amendment to the state's constitution (which the Legislature conveniently neglected to get started on this year).
In response to this week’s legislative vote, supporters of RCV have launched a campaign to overturn that action. These supporters plan to initiate a people’s veto that would give Maine voters a chance at the June primaries to undo the Legislature’s bill.
In a Facebook post by the Committee for Ranked-choice Voting announcing the people’s veto effort, Chairman Dick Woodbury, a former state senator, said Monday’s vote was “outrageous.”
“The vote-splitting problems that have dominated Maine elections in the past are all the more serious in 2018,” he wrote, “and that’s why citizens demanded Ranked-choice Voting be up and running and ready to go for the 2018 primaries.”
According to Ann Luther, a longtime board member for Maine’s League of Women Voters and an Ellsworth resident, if the people’s veto doesn’t pass, the likelihood that ranked-choice voting would be repealed altogether in 2021 is high.
“Unless there’s a significant change in the personnel in the Legislature, a constitutional amendment will not pass,” she said.
Democratic Legislators No Help
Chapman, cited above, is the only Green Independent in either legislative house at present. He represents House District 133, near Portland. He is also term-limited, and thus had nothing to lose by switching his party label this year. Chapman's move was largely symbolic, but it speaks volumes about "failure to implement the people's will" and may lead other progressive Democrats at various levels of government to go Green.
Asher Platts, aka The Punk Patriot, lives and agitates in Portland. His Facebook timeline has been a great source of information about the ruthless gentrification of that supposedly liberal city and the Democrats' shenanigans in the state capital, among other topics. A few years ago, Augusta Democrats had an opportunity to impeach LePage, but they didn't take it. As Platts paints it, they are just a microcosm-writ-large of how corporate donors have more effect on legislative outcomes (especially in Congress) than whether actual human voters favor a particular policy.
Democrats in Maine (and elsewhere) have blamed popular independent candidates for throwing the race to LePage, because, well, there can be only two political parties dammit. It remains a hard political truth that any form of Instant Runoff Voting scares establishment Democrats shitless. If the Donkey Party hadn't drifted so far to the right to please big donors while their base as a whole shifted left (especially Millennials), they would have far less to fear. They wouldn't be facing so many insurgent progressive candidates, whether those insurgents run as Democrats in the primaries or third-party/independents in the general elections.