Court Unblocks Ranked-Choice Voting in Santa Fe; Maine Still Obstructed

Definitely none of the above ||| Jill2016.comOf all the various electoral reforms and tweaks favored by people alienated by the near-monolithic two-party set-up in the United States, ranked-choice (or instant-runoff) voting, where voters rank their preferences and the votes for the last-place candidates keep getting redistributed until someone receives more than 50 percent, stands out for being 1) plausible enough to have been adopted in a dozen mostly progressive cities, and 2) threatening enough that the Democratic and Republican parties go bananas trying to block it.

The latest such obstructionism was wiped away Tuesday when the New Mexico Supreme Court batted down a legal challenge to the system by the city of Santa Fe, where voters overwhelmingly passed ranked-choice into law 10 freaking years ago. The first instant runoff voting there will take place in March.

So what's the latest in Maine, where voters passed ranked-choice statewide in November 2016, but then the state Supreme Court last May declared in an advisory opinion the system to be unconstitutional, after which legislators in October punted implementation until December 2021, with the poison pill that it would be repealed altogether if the state constitution isn't amended to accommodate the practice by then? Well, supporters have filed a People's Veto referendum, which under the Maine Constitution allows for citizens to overturn hated laws if they collect enough valid signatures. According to the Committee for Ranked Choice Voting last week, "volunteers across the state collected more than 33,000 of the required 61,123 signatures required" on the first day of petitioning in November. The deadline is Feb. 2.

Reason has explored ranked-choice often over the years. Just after the 2016 elections, Zach Weissmueller did a podcast interview with Richard Woodbury, chair of the Committee for Ranked Choice Voting. And in 2014, Nick Gillespie conducted an interview with the chairman of the ranked-choice supporting FairVote, who oh yeah also used to play bass for Nirvana: