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2016 Op. Me. Att'y Gen. 1 (2016)

handle is hein.sag/sagme0063 and id is 1 raw text is:                                                                                    2016-01
                                                                                REGIONAL OFFICES
                                                                                84 HARLOW ST. 2ND FLOOR
                                                       F                        BANGOR, MAINE 04401
                                                                                TEL: (207) 941-3070
                                                                                FAX: (207) 941-3075
ATTORNEY GENERAL                                                                415 CONGRESS ST., STE. 301
                                                                                PORTLAND, MAINE 04101
                                                                                TEL: (207) 822-0260
                                                                                FAX: (207) 822-0259
                                           STATE OF  MAINE
                                 OFFICE  OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL                14 ACCESS HIGHWAY, STE. 1
TEL: (207) 626-8800                                                             CARIBOU, MAINE 04736
                                   AUGUSTA,   MAINE   04333-0006                FAX: (207) 496-3291

                                                              March  4, 2016

      Hon. Michael D. Thibodeau
      President of the Senate
      3 State House Station
      Augusta, Maine 04333-0003

             RE:    Ranked-choice Voting

      Dear Senator Thibodeau:

             You asked whether L.D.  1557, An Act to Establish Ranked-choice Voting, presents any
      constitutional concerns with regard to the provisions of the Maine Constitution applicable to
      elections for Governor (Art. V, pt. 1, § 3), State Senators (Art. IV, pt. 2, §§ 3-4), and State
      Representatives (Art. IV, pt. 1, § 5). The bill proposes a new method of determining elections
      for the offices of United States Senator, Representative to Congress, Governor, State Senator and
      State Representative, and for primary elections to determine the nominees for those offices. The
      Maine Constitution contains no specific provisions relating to elections for Congress or the
      United States Senate, and primary elections are created by statute. Accordingly, we will address
      only those issues relating to general elections for Governor, State Senate and State
      Representative. I

             Since L.D. 1557 is a citizen-initiated bill, it must be presented to the voters at the general
      election next November, with or without a competing measure, unless the Legislature enacts it
      without change this session. Me. Const. art. IV, pt. 3, § 18, cls. 2.

             We  have received comments from some  legislators and others urging our office not to
      address the constitutionality of L.D. 1557 before the initiative is presented to the voters. The
      Justices of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court have advised that a citizen initiative must be
      submitted to the voters (if not enacted by the Legislature) even if it presents constitutional issues.
      See Opinion of the Justices, 673 A.2d 693, 697 (Me. 1996) (Congressional term limits initiative
      must be sent to voters at referendum election if not enacted by Legislature notwithstanding the

      We   do not address any federal constitutional issues here, except to note that courts in other jurisdictions
      have generally rejected challenges to ranked-choice voting based on equal protection and First
      Amendment  grounds. See, e.g., Dudum v. Arntz, 640 F.3d 1088 (9 Cir. 2011) (upholding the city of San
      Francisco's restrictive instant runoff voting system); and Minnesota Voters Alliance v. City of
      Minneapolis, 766 N.W.2d 683 (Minn. 2009) (upholding city's instant runoff voting system).


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