Lame-Duck Maine Congressman Calls for Election Redo

BANGOR, Maine (CN) – Expected to lose his seat in Congress after Maine’s first test of ranked-choice voting, Rep. Bruce Poliquin amended his complaint Tuesday to include a demand for a new election.

Also known as instant-runoff voting, Maine adopted the new ranked-choice system via ballot measure in 2016. The process requires voters to rank their choices in races with more than two candidates. If no candidate gains a majority of the vote, the second choice of those voters who chose the least-successful candidate would get their votes. This process repeats each round until one candidate has the majority of votes.

As the state tallies its results from the Nov. 6 midterm elections, the nation’s first ranked choice vote at the federal level, Poliquin dropped to second place in the second round.

A Republican who was first voted to represent Maine’s 2nd District in 2014, Poliquin had previously sought to stop the vote count and to stop the state from performing a ranked-choice tally of the votes.

He brought a federal complaint on Nov. 13 and amended the filing on Tuesday, saying that instead of an injunction, he wants an “order that a new election be held for U.S. Representative from Maine’s Second Congressional District ‘to remedy [the] broad-gauged unfairness’ that implementation of the RCV (Ranked Choice Voting) Act injected into the November 6 general election.”

Poliquin is joined in the case by three GOP voters. They say that ranked-choice elections distort the wishes of voters, particular those who chose to only select one candidate, like all four plaintiffs did, instead of ranking them.

Without ranked-choice voting, Poliquin would have won with 46.2 percent of the vote in a four-way race. He did not gain a majority of the vote, so under Maine’s new ranked-choice voting law, Democratic challenger Jared Golden took the lead, 142,440 to Poliquin’s 138,931.

That tally includes 6,125 additional votes that had originally been left out of the original count.

“During the typical post-election certification process for the final tabulation, the Elections staff noticed a discrepancy when they crosschecked the number of cast vote records with the number of ‘total ballots cast’ for each town,” Kristen Muszynski, a spokeswoman for the Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap said in a statement regarding the election results earlier this month. “When they did not match for six towns, the staff investigated and discovered that those six towns had one or more ExpressVote ballots that they mistakenly fed into the tabulator. These ballots, which are marked using the accessible ballot-marking device, called ExpressVote, were not supported by the tabulator’s programming for this election and clerks were advised to count them by hand.”

Maine’s Supreme Court found last year that the new Ranked-Choice Voting law violated the Maine Constitution, which specifically calls for state elections to be settled by a plurality of the vote. The court’s decision also noted that the state Legislature could simply amend the Maine Constitution if it desired to institute ranked-choice voting.

Voters blocked an effort by the Legislature to slow down or outright repeal the law through a ballot-measure during June’s Maine primary.

A representative for Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap did not respond to an email seeking comment.

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