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Guest Column: When a Plan Comes Together

By Andy Torbett

Political irony is on full display in Maine. The staple of many a politician, hypocrisy has now been foisted upon the voting process. Toddling mere months into its infancy, Ranked Choice Voting was found unconstitutional by the State Supreme Court for use in state elections and has now mired the state in a muck of necessary legal challenges into its federal constitutionality. Media punditry has circled the wagons around their collective talking point that challenging RCV at the federal level erodes the peoples’ confidence in the “institution” of voting, seemingly oblivious to the millions of dollars and years of political spin spent on ads, campaign mailings, and signature drives, all in an effort to erode the voters’ confidence in Maine’s already constitutionally established voting system.

Here, the time proven political ploy of accusing your opponent of the very thing to which you are guilty is so stark it cannot be veiled. Could it be that the so-called “erosion” of voter confidence is not the result of inevitable legal challenges by a candidate, but a collective “a-ha” moment as Maine voters began to pull the propaganda veil away to reveal yet another political con game?

Ranked Choice Voting was passed by peoples’ referendum, a process which has been criticized roundly from all sides of the political spectrum. Because the process does not require signatures to be gathered proportionally by each county, the process becomes a people’s referendum of the most populated areas, not the whole of Maine. Why plod along the byways and dusty ways of Piscataquis County when you can gather all the signatures you need in Portland?

It stands to reason that, from its inception, starting with the referendum process, Ranked Choice Voting was the will of the voters of the 1st Congressional District. The 2nd Congressional District would not have been fertile ground for signature gathering towards a perceived anti-LePage referendum. It was the 2nd District whose votes swung LePage over the top to victory, and this was reflected when CD2 voted down the referendum by 20,000 votes.

Still, CD1 votes won the day. RCV was immediately challenged in court and ruled unconstitutional. The ruling could only apply to the state constitution; therefore, state elections remained one vote for one person, while federal elections remained in limbo until they could be challenged at the federal level.

It was no surprise that the only Congressional District that RCV would affect would be CD2. CD1 would not, and for that matter will never, face an RCV challenge, as it is rumored that Cumberland County is a gated county that requires proof of registration with the Democrat Party before residency. It should be noted that this writer has yet to confirm the veracity of said rumor.

Sarcasm and cynicism aside, at every step in its brief, infantile history, Ranked Choice Voting has been the majority wish of one political demographic, CD1. Unfortunately, CD2 is bearing the repercussions of that wish. Ironically, without legal intervention, CD1 now enjoys two Representatives for the will of its voters and CD2 has none.

Andy Torbett ( writes from Atkinson, Maine.


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