- Associated Press - Friday, June 2, 2017

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) - Maine lawmakers on Friday considered two bills to either repeal or allow the new voting law that Mainers approved in November.

The state Supreme Judicial Court recently issued a nonbinding decision that the method is unconstitutional when it comes to elections for governor and state lawmakers. Lawmakers requested the opinion following voters’ approval of the nation’s first-ever ranked-choice voting system in November.

The law as it stands would allow residents to rank their ballot choices from first to last in a system that ensures a candidate wins majority support.

This week, supporters of ranked choice voting rallied at the State House and called lawmakers’ steps to repeal the law a slap in the face. In the November election, 52 percent of voters approved the idea.

Democratic Sen. Cathy Breen introduced a bill Friday to allow ranked-choice voting by beginning the process of amending Maine’s Constitution, which determines election winners by plurality.

Republican Rep. Heather Sirocki’s bill would repeal the law, which she said was deceptively marketed to voters.

Republican House Leader Ken Fredette’s office has said he won’t support a constitutional amendment, which would require the heavy lift of a two-thirds vote in both the House and Senate to be placed on the statewide ballot.

Meanwhile, Democrats said that ranked-choice voting can still proceed in federal elections. Democratic Rep. Rachel Talbot Ross said that Portland voters have used the method to vote for mayor since 2011.

But Republican Senate President Michael Thibodeau has said having two different voting methods would be confusing, and that leaving the law as it stands would open the state up to legal challenge.

The legislative session is set to adjourn June 21.

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