LEWISTON — Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap took issue Tuesday with Gov. Paul LePage’s remark that ranked-choice voting is the “most horrific thing in the world.”
“If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a billion times: Don’t exaggerate,” Dunlap said in response.
LePage told News Center Maine on Tuesday that he will “probably not” certify the results of the primary election because of ranked-choice voting, a method he strongly opposes. Dunlap said he is responsible for certifying the primary results, not the governor.
Dunlap said ranked-choice voting, which might decide the gubernatorial and 2nd District congressional race results, is not that complicated and certainly is far less awful than children dying in Syria and a host of other calamities around the world.
During a visit Tuesday to the Armory, one of Lewiston’s polling places, Dunlap said he expects to have all of the votes counted next week for every race.
Across Maine, he said, voter turnout was a bit higher than expected, bolstered in part by some hot issues in a handful of localities, including Casco.
LePage also said, incorrectly, that Maine had ranked-choice voting before and former Gov. Joshua Chamberlain “got rid of it” because it was not working.
The governor apparently was referring to a disputed election for governor in 1880 in which three candidates split the vote and the leader in the balloting failed to get a majority, which was then required in the state constitution.
The Legislature eventually picked the leader in the voting to serve as governor, but one candidate asked Chamberlain, as head of the state militia, to lead troops in Augusta to maintain order. Chamberlain, who had been governor from 1866 to 1870, sent the troops home.
The constitution was changed to require only a plurality — the most votes, regardless of whether it makes a majority — to elect the governor and candidates for the state Legislature.
LePage said “Maine people continue to be snookered by out-of-state big money and out-of-state people” to adopt measures like ranked-choice voting, which was approved by referendum in 2016.
Portland Press Herald writer Edward D. Murphy contributed to this report.
Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap at the Armory polling location Tuesday in Lewiston. (Steve Collins/Sun Journal)