House Rejects Popular Elections For Constitutional Officers

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — A proposed constitutional amendment to require popular elections for Maine’s attorney general, secretary of state and treasurer has fallen short in the House.

A two-thirds majority is required in both chambers to send the proposed amendment to the voters for approval.

The bill won 27-7 support on Monday in the Senate, which approved an amendment to ensure the use of ranked-choice voting. But the House, which previously narrowly approved the measure, rejected the amended version by an 81-62 vote on Tuesday, the Bangor Daily News reported.

Maine is among a handful of states that do not hold statewide general elections for so-called “constitutional officers.” The positions are chosen by the Maine Legislature, and they typically are filled by the party in power.

Former Republican Gov. Paul LePage called for a similar change in 2015, when he was involved in a political dispute with then-Attorney General Janet Mills.

But Republican support eroded with the ranked choice voting provision.

Republicans have decried the voting system since Republican U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin lost his reelection to Democrat Jared Golden despite winning the most first-place votes. Golden was declared the majority winner after an additional voting round in the three-way race.

The voting system encourages people to rank all candidate on the ballot. If no one wins a majority, then the last-place candidate is eliminated and the votes are reallocated in extra voting rounds until there's a majority winner.

All told, there have been 103 failed attempts over the years to change how the state’s constitutional officers are elected, according to the Maine State Law and Legislative Reference Library.