Political irony is on full display in Maine. The staple of many a politician, hypocrisy has now been foisted upon the voting process.

Ranked-choice voting, toddling mere months into its infancy, was found unconstitutional for use in state elections in an opinion provided by the justices of the Supreme Judicial Court, and has now mired the state into the muck of necessary legal challenges into its federal constitutionality. Media punditry has circled the wagons around their collective talking point that challenging ranked-choice voting at the federal level erodes the people’s confidence in the “institution” of voting, seemingly oblivious to the millions of dollars, and years of political spin, spent on ads, campaign mailings and signature drives, all in an effort to erode the voters’ confidence in Maine’s already constitutionally established voting system.

Here, the time-proven political ploy of accusing your opponent of the very thing of which you are guilty is so stark it cannot be veiled. Could it be that the so-called erosion of voter confidence is not the result of inevitable legal challenges by a candidate, but a collective “a-ha” moment as Maine voters began to pull the propaganda veil away to reveal yet another political con game?

Ranked-choice voting was passed by citizen’s referendum, a process that has been criticized roundly from all sides of the political spectrum. Because the process does not require signatures to be gathered proportionally by each county, the process becomes a citizen’s referendum of the most populated areas, not the whole of Maine. Why plod along the byways and dusty ways of Piscataquis County when you can gather all the signatures you need in Portland?

It stands to reason, at its inception, from the referendum process on, ranked-choice voting was the will of the voters in the 1st Congressional District. The 2nd Congressional District would not have been fertile ground for signature gathering toward a referendum that was perceived as a response to the victory of Gov. Paul LePage. It was the 2nd District whose votes swung LePage over the top to victory, and that was reflected when the 2nd District voted down the referendum by 20,000 votes.

Still, 1st Congressional District votes won the day. Ranked-choice voting was immediately challenged by the Maine Senate, which asked the Supreme Judicial Court for an opinion. In an advisory opinion, the justices said ranked-choice voting was unconstitutional for state elections, but made no statement on federal elections. Therefore, state elections remained one vote for one person, while federal elections remained in limbo until they could be challenged at the federal level.

It was no surprise that the only congressional district that ranked-choice voting would affect would be the 2nd District. The 1st District would not, and for that matter will never face, a ranked-choice challenge, as it is rumored that Cumberland County is a gated county that requires proof of registration with the Democrat Party before residency. It should be noted that this writer has yet to confirm the veracity of said rumor.

Sarcasm and cynicism aside, at every step in its brief infantile history, ranked-choice voting has been the majority wish of one political demographic, that of the 1st Congressional District. Unfortunately, the 2nd District is bearing the repercussions of that wish.

Ironically, without legal intervention, the 1st District now enjoys two representatives for the will of its voters — while the 2nd District has none.

Andy Torbett lives in Atkinson.

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