Sept. 22 (UPI) -- Maine will become the first state in the country to use ranked-choice voting in a presidential election after its Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled Republicans failed to meet criteria to block it.
A panel of five judges on Tuesday overturned an August ruling by a lower court that ruled Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap was improperly disenfranchising voters by invalidating signatures collected by two people circulating petitions in towns they were not registered to vote in.
The state's high court determined the limits requiring circulators be registered voters in the areas where they distribute petitions was "reasonable" for allowing the state to determine the validity of the petitions.
"We conclude that the government's interest is sufficient to justify the restriction that the requirement places on petitioners' First Amendment rights," the judges wrote.
Tuesday's decision follows a ruling earlier this month that allowed the state to begin printing ballots with rank-choice voting options ahead of the Nov. 3 election.
Ranked-choice voting, which has voters rank candidates in order of preference rather than to choose one from a group, was first approved in Maine in 2016 and was used for all state and primary elections as well as general elections for Congress in 2018.
The practice has faced multiple challenges from Republicans in the state and Maine GOP Chair Demi Kouzounas said the group was exploring possible options to review the decision through federal courts.
Dunlap described the ruling as a "great relief," saying it would help the state avoid reprinting and reissuing ballots with just weeks before they are set to be delivered to absentee voters.