In a week when the national political spotlight shines on the President’s derogatory word choices, the people of Maine are working to make things more inclusive, better represent democracy and keep the will of the people alive. One of Maine’s own, Jon Fishman, drummer for the band PHISH and fresh off four shows at Madison Square Garden, sat down to help collect signatures for Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) at Bayside Bowl in Portland.
Bayside Bowl is owned by former state senator Justin Alfond and Charlie Mitchell. Mitchell comes from political stock, his mother is former gubernatorial candidate and the first person to be elected Speaker of the Maine House of Representatives followed by State Senate President, Libby Mitchell. This cavalcade of politics, bowling and music is fascinating and underscores how the issue of Ranked Choice Voting joins people from all walks.
Here is the timeline of how Ranked Choice Voting has evolved:
Nov. 2014 Signature collection begins to put Ranked Choice Voting on the ballot. More than 73,000 signatures are collected.
Nov. 2015 Secretary of State verifies signatures.
Nov. 2016 – The people of Maine pass RCV in the second largest referendum vote in the state’s history.
May 2017 – Maine’s Law court offers a non-binding advisory opinion saying there may be issues with certain races.
Oct. 2017 – The Legislature votes to delay and repeal implementation of RCV until 2021.
Nov. 2017- People’s veto is launched. The committee removes the races that “may” represent a constitutional issue. Those without an issue will be on the ballot in June of 2018.
Nov 2017 – Feb. 2018 – Signature collecting begins and 1600 volunteers from across the state, work in subzero temperatures to meet the Feb. 2nd deadline to submit the signatures to the Secretary of State.
This brings us to the current collecting of 61,123 signatures with the drummer from Phish. Jon Fishman echoes the sentiment we heard repeatedly as people continued to sign petitions to overturn the legislature’s decision. He told the crowd that his bottom line is: it is unacceptable for the people to pass a law only to have the legislature overturn it.
In the meantime, legislators are still writing letters to the editor saying that the people did not know what they were voting on in a referendum. Mind you, these are the same people who put said legislators in office.
The Secretary of State, Matt Dunlap is opposed and has used hyperbole such as this to describe RCV:
You could have cars burning in the streets. And what I said at the time was doing nothing is the equivalent of leaving a loaded revolver on a swing set. There’s going to be a disaster, it’s just a matter of when.” – WLOB Sept. 2017
It is believed that the people will obtain the necessary signatures in time, but already rumors abound in Augusta that those opposed are trying to cook up another idea to circumvent the will of the people. Actions like this feed into why people feel disenfranchised from their elected officials and feel their votes don’t count. The most impressive aspect to this story is that in 90 days, in what has been described as the largest volunteer effort in Maine’s referendum history, the delivery of those signatures will demonstrate how the people of Maine refuse to give up. Now, will they be heard?
Phish drummer helping with ranked-choice voting drive
JON FISHMAN PUSHING FOR RANKED-CHOICE VOTING IN MAINE
Phish drummer helping with Maine ranked-choice voting drive
(Portland, Maine) – The Friends of Ranked Choice Voting will be collecting signatures at the Tributary Brewery this Sunday from 3-5pm.
The Tributary is a long- time supporter of RCV and is hosting this event as signature gatherers try and reach the 61,123 signatures for the People’s Veto by mid-January.
Owner Galen Mott said, “We are delighted to open our doors again to support this measure. It’s good common sense political reform.”
In October 2017, the legislature chose to overturn the will of the people by refusing to implement the RCV law passed by a substantial majority in the November 2016 election. In response, supporters are gathering signatures via the People’s veto to overturn the legislatures decision.
RCV communications director Crystal Canney said, “It’s unbelievable that Maine people would vote overwhelmingly for good political reform that in the end will elect our leaders by a majority – only to have the legislature try to kill it with their delay and repeal tactic. There was no way supporters were going to let that happen and the People’s Veto began. Despite the near daily freezing temperatures more than a thousand volunteers are out there trying to implement legislation that the majority of Mainers already approved.”
The band will be performing an original song called: RCV: The Will of the People during the afternoon.
About the Friends of Ranked Choice Voting Band:
Friends of RCV is a collection of musicians from in and around the Seacoast who have jumped at the opportunity to promote Ranked Choice Voting. Playing in a relaxed hootenanny-on-the-porch acoustic style the
repertoire runs a range of genres including folk, bluegrass, jazz, Irish and classic rock too. Join Friends of RCV for a fun night promoting a worthy cause!
Appearing as Friends of RCV are:
David Dupouy on banjo.
For More information on the People’s Veto: http://www.rcvmaine.com
Contact: Crystal Canney at firstname.lastname@example.org or (207) 615-5968