Alexandra A.E. Shapiro, Partner, Shapiro Arato LLP

"The RCV Proposal is constitutional."

"We are outside counsel to Level the Playing Field (“LPF”), a non-partisan, non-profit organization not affiliated with any candidate.  LPF’s purpose is to promote reforms that allow for greater competition and choice in federal elections.  LPF supports the Ranked Choice Voting proposal recently presented to the Maine Legislature by the Committee for Ranked Choice Voting (the “RCV Proposal”).

The RCV Proposal is constitutional.

We fully agree with the well-reasoned opinions of FairVote in its memorandum dated January 28, 2014, and Timothy R. Shannon of Verrill Dana LLP in his letter dated January 21, 2016, which explain the history of the present version of Section 3 of Article V of the Maine Constitution, and show why that history, and the plain language of Section 3, provide no basis to challenge the RCV Proposal.

Among other things, Section 3 provides that the Governor may be elected by a plurality, rather than a majority. Importantly, Section 3 does not even address, much less restrict, the possible ways to count that plurality.  RCV merely provides a method to count the required plurality.  The candidate remaining after each round of tabulation is the candidate with the highest number of votes.  This candidate necessarily has at least a plurality, and in some cases may have a majority, but either way, the process clearly leads to a “choice by plurality” as required by Section 3.  

Most significantly for the people of Maine, RCV gives voters a more meaningful choice, and more say, in the final outcome of their elections than the current system, which limits voters’ choices.  The current system often results in the victory of a candidate who is disfavored by the majority, and may not even be their second choice.  RCV, by contrast, captures voter preference more accurately, and will result in a more democratic process that more accurately captures Maine voters’ true preferences."

Alexandra A.E. Shapiro
Partner, Shapiro Arato LLP
Former Clerk, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Supreme Court of the United States

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