Friday, March 22, 2019

Maine Committee Hearing Finds Support for and Roadblocks to a Ranked Choice Presidential Primary

On Wednesday, March 20, the Maine Committee on Veterans and Legal Affairs convened and considered legislation to reestablish a presidential primary in the Pine Tree state and conduct it under ranked choice voting rules. Scott Thistle at the Portland Press Herald reported that no one providing testimony spoke against the measure.

Republicans on the panel, however, balked according to Thistle:
But Republicans, who have largely opposed ranked choice, pushed back against its supporters, saying they didn’t believe the original system was broken but working as it should. 
“To me the old analogy is, ‘If it ain’t broke don’t fix it,'” said Rep. Sheldon Hanington, R-Lincoln, a committee member who questioned witnesses. Hanington said he had voted since 1980, was satisfied with the outcomes of some elections and dissatisfied with others, but wasn’t convinced the system was broken.
And representatives from the office of the secretary of state while remaining neutral on the legislation pointed out some technical problems that it would raise if it became law:
Deputy Secretary of State Julie Flynn, the state’s second-highest-ranking election official, said the Secretary of State’s Office was neither for nor against the bill, but did “wholeheartedly support a return to the presidential primary over a caucus …” 
Flynn said there were technical issues with the bill, including the timing of holding a primary election in early March and then tabulating it without running up against other deadlines in state law for candidates to turn in their nominating petitions. She said for the law to go into effect for the 2020 presidential primary, candidates would need to have their petitions filed with the state by July of this year, which would be before the bill, if passed, would go into effect.
Funding would seemingly still be a concern with this bill as it is with the other primary bill since it still calls for a separate presidential primary contest.

Neither bill has seen a working session in committee to add any amendments.

LD 1083 has a competing bill, LD 245, that has previously been heard by the committee, and both are similar with respect to the timing of the would-be newly constituted presidential primary. Both would leave the scheduling decision up to the secretary of state, but confine the date to some time in March.

That uncertainty over the scheduling has drawn some push back from the secretary of state's office in the previous hearing hearing over LD 245. During that hearing, deputy secretary of state Julie Flynn revealed that the office had a bill in the works that would reestablish the presidential primary but on a set date, the second Tuesday in March. That bill has yet to make its way to the introduction stage much less a committee hearing. It is unclear whether it will and become another alternative that the Maine legislature will consider alongside the two other options.

It is also worth pointing out that the same filing issues would be present in any competing bill that sets a definitive date in March as well.

1/18/19: Maine Lost its Presidential Primary

2/1/19: Maine Decision to Re-Establish a Presidential Primary Option for 2020 Hinges on Money

2/9/19: Maine Committee Hearing Highlights Familiar Divisions in Caucus to Primary Shifts

3/16/19: Alternative Bill Would Reestablish a Presidential Primary in Maine but with Ranked Choice Voting

3/30/19: Maine Democrats Signal Caucuses in Draft Delegate Selection Plan, but...

4/23/19: New Super Tuesday Presidential Primary Bill Introduced in Maine

5/10/19: Maine Committee Working Session Offers Little Clarity on 2020 Presidential Primary

6/3/19: Maine Senate Advances Super Tuesday Primary Bill

6/4/19: On to the Governor: Maine House Passes Super Tuesday Presidential Primary Bill

6/19/19: Fate of a Reestablished Presidential Primary in Maine Not Clear Entering Final Legislative Day

6/20/19: Governor Mills' Signature Sets Maine Presidential Primary for Super Tuesday

Follow FHQ on TwitterGoogle+ and Facebook or subscribe by Email.

No comments: