SENATE'S REQUEST FOR OPINION OF THE JUSTICES

(RANKED-CHOICE VOTING)


All information on the Senate's request for an opinion of the Justices, including all filings and schedules, will be posted on this page. The Clerk's office will not be able to provide any additional information.

On February 7, 2017, the Maine State Senate submitted the following questions to the Justices of the Supreme Judicial Court, pursuant to Article VI, Section 3 of the Maine Constitution, regarding An Act to Establish Ranked-Choice Voting, which was approved by Maine voters on November 8, 2016, pursuant to Article IV, Part Third, Section 18 of the Maine Constitution:

Question 1. Does the Act's requirement that the Secretary of State count the votes centrally
in multiple rounds conflict with the provisions of the Constitution of Maine that require that the
city and town officials sort, count, declare and record the votes in elections for Representative,
Senator and Governor as provided in the Constitution of Maine, Article IV, Part First, Section 5,
Article IV, Part Second, Section 3 and Article V, Part First, Section 3?

Question 2. Does the method of ranked-choice voting established by the Act in elections for
Representative, Senator and Governor violate the provisions of the Constitution of Maine, Article
IV, Part First, Section 5, Article IV, Part Second, Sections 3 and 4 and Article V, Part First,
Section 3, respectively, which declare that the person elected shall be the candidate who receives
a plurality of all the votes counted and declared by city and town officials as recorded on lists
returned to the Secretary of State?

Question 3. Does the requirement in the Act that a tie between candidates for Governor in
the final round of counting be decided by lot conflict with the provisions of the Constitution of
Maine, Article V, Part First, Section 3 relating to resolution of a tie vote for Governor by the
House of Representatives and Senate?

The Justices have issued a procedural order establishing the process that they will use to consider the questions. Briefs are due by 4:00 p.m. on Friday, March 3, 2017, with responsive briefs permitted by noon on Friday, March 17, 2017.

Oral argument will be held on Thursday, April 13, 2017, at 8:30 a.m. in Courtroom 12 of the Cumberland County Courthouse in Portland.

Documents:

  • Senate Order SO0012, dated February 2, 2017 (submitted questions)
    • Letter from Attorney General Janet T. Mills to Senate President Michael D. Thibodeau dated March 4, 2016 (submitted with Senate Order SO0012)
  • Procedural order

  • All documents in order received or issued (most recent at top):
    • Issued February 7, 2017: Procedural order
    • Received February 7, 2017:
      • Senate Order SO0012, dated February 2, 2017
      • Letter from Attorney General Janet T. Mills to Senate President Michael D. Thibodeau dated March 4, 2016
      • Letter from Secretary of the Senate Heather J.R. Priest to the Justices of the Supreme Judicial Court