Supreme Court rejects GOP attempt to get rid of ranked voting in Maine

Ariane de Vogue, Chandelis Duster :: CNN

(CNN)Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer cleared the way Tuesday night for ranked-choice voting to be used in Maine, delivering a blow to Republican challengers.

In September, Maine's Supreme Court had sided with the state's Democratic secretary of state and rejected a Republican challenge to the system, which allows voters to rank all the candidates by preference and for a voter's next choice to be considered if their first candidate doesn't have enough votes to be viable. The winner must have more than 50% of the votes.

Republicans in the state asked the high court to step in and put the state Supreme Court opinion on hold. The petition went to Breyer, who has jurisdiction over the lower court.

That five-judge panel ruled that the secretary of state had acted correctly in rejecting a ballot referendum on the future of ranked-choice voting -- which would've meant Maine couldn't use the method during this year's election.

The petition is the latest twist in a long legal battle over ranked-choice voting in Maine. Ranked-choice voting was approved by Maine residents in 2016 and was used in the 2018 election that resulted in the ouster of then-Republican Rep. Bruce Poliquin by Democrat Jared Golden. It was the first time in US history a federal race had been decided by the voting system.

The voting system now could be a challenge for Republican Sen. Susan Collins, who is up for reelection against Democrat Sara Gideon, the speaker of the state House.

Maine is set to become the first state to use the system during a presidential election.

CNN's Eric Bradner contributed to this report.

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