Maine Republican congressman sues over ‘flawed’ ranked-choice voting systems as ballots are still counted


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Republican Rep. Bruce Poliquin has filed a lawsuit in opposition to the Maine secretary of state arguing the state’s new ranked-choice voting system has “undermined” constituents’ voting rights.

Poliquin, a 65-year-old two-term incumbent, is locked in a good race with Democrat Jared Golden, the state Home’s assistant majority chief. Within the first spherical of the ranked-choice voting (RCV) course of, Poliquin led with 46.three % of votes in comparison with Golden’s 45.6, in line with the Bangor Every day Information.

Below this technique, voters rank candidates on the poll so as of desire – as an alternative of simply selecting one particular person. If a candidate wins nearly all of the vote, then they’re declared the winner.

Nonetheless, if no candidate receives a majority, then votes are counted in rounds with the lowest-ranked candidate eradicated per spherical till solely two stay in a mathematical sport of survival. For instance, as soon as a candidate is eradicated, the second-choice picks for voters who selected that eradicated candidate will then be counted because the remaining contenders transfer on to the following spherical. This course of continues till solely two candidates stay, with one receiving nearly all of the vote – and declared the winner.

About eight % of voters selected two independents within the 2nd congressional district race: Tiffany Bond and Will Hoar. Based on the Bangor Every day Information, as soon as these ballots are tabulated, Golden would emerge because the winner.


Together with three Republican activists, Poliquin filed a lawsuit in opposition to Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap Tuesday, alleging RCV violates the Structure “which units a plurality vote because the qualification for election to the U.S. Home of Representatives.”

Rep. Bruce Poliquin, R-Maine, filed a federal lawsuit in opposition to Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap in an try and cease a tabulation of ranked-choice ballots in his race in opposition to Democratic challenger Jared Golden. 
(AP Photograph/Robert F. Bukaty)

Decide Lance Walker will hear arguments Wednesday morning in U.S. District Court docket in Bangor.

“As an alternative of respecting this necessary constitutional precept, the RCV Act immediately contravenes it by denying people who obtained the best variety of votes after the primary spherical of balloting – on this case, Bruce Poliquin – from being declared the winner of the overall election,” the swimsuit claims.

It makes a number of different arguments, too, together with the “basis of our ‘democratic course of’ is the fitting of all certified voters to solid their votes successfully.” It means that the ranked voting system “denies Plaintiffs the chance to solid their votes successfully.”


On Twitter, Poliquin mentioned he’s “standing up” for constituents who voted in opposition to utilizing the ranked-choice system.

“We maintain voting rights sacred, that means one vote per particular person, which has at all times been the profitable system used,” Poliquin mentioned. “This RCV course of little doubt provides further desire to those that voted for a candidate who didn’t find yourself as one of many prime two vote earners, thereby permitting them a number of votes. Whether or not that vote was for me or my opponent, it mustn’t matter.”

“The method is flawed, creates great confusion, and is proving to be a recipe for catastrophe, as Maine’s Second District predicted once they voted in opposition to it,” he continued.

“Our workplace is conscious of pending litigation concerning the ranked selection voting tabulation course of,” the Maine secretary of state’s workplace said in a statement. “We’re persevering with to course of ballots towards the ultimate tabulation and can overview any courtroom orders with our authorized advisors.”

Jon Breed, Golden’s marketing campaign supervisor, responded to the lawsuit, saying, “Any try by Bruce Poliquin to vary the principles after votes have already been solid is an affront to the regulation and to the folks of Maine.”

“If Rep. Poliquin’s considerations had been something aside from in self-interest, he ought to have filed this lawsuit earlier than votes had been solid, or when the Maine Republican Celebration challenged Maine’s election system final yr,” Breed argued.

Supporters of the system say it has already cleared authorized challenges. A number of courts, together with the ninth U.S. Circuit Court docket of Appeals in San Francisco, have upheld the constitutionality of ranked-choice voting, supporters mentioned.


“We’re seeing these sorts of post-election sore loser lawsuits throughout the nation,” mentioned Rob Richie, of FairVote, an electoral reform group that pressed for Maine’s adoption of the system.

Maine is the primary state within the nation to make use of the system – although it wasn’t used for all races within the Nov. 6 election. It was used for the U.S. Senate race (with incumbent Angus King profitable re-election) and the U.S. Home races for the first and 2nd congressional districts. It was not used within the gubernatorial election, amongst others, due to considerations it runs afoul of Maine’s Structure.

There was no controversy in Maine’s different Home race and Senate race. Democratic Rep. Chellie Pingree and impartial King every gained with a majority of the vote, making additional tabulations pointless.

The Related Press contributed to this report.

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