Le Sigh. Remember how the people of Maine voted last year to switch to Ranked Choice Voting for local and state offices? Remember how for a while it appeared that the Legislature there would overturn it, but didn't? Remember "that depends on what your definition of the word 'majority' is"? Well, now the duly elected representatives in Augusta have kicked that particular can waaaaay down the road.
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.
Quoth the MGIP:
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."
You Wanna Change the Constitution? Well...
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.
Per Maine's constitution, the odious Paul LePage still cannot run for a third term in 2018. That's the good news, although it's old news. LePage was elected twice without a majority, receiving just 37.6% in 2010. This particular brand of lightning striking twice is what drove a majority of Mainers to vote for the referendum last November.
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.
Blogging Sporadically since 2014
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