News Feature

State of Maine
Originally published in Castine Patriot, November 29, 2018 and Island Ad-Vantages, November 29, 2018 and The Weekly Packet, November 29, 2018
Poliquin requests recount in Congressional District 2 vote
Asks federal judge for new election

by Anne Berleant

Bruce Poliquin, the incumbent representative to Congress for District 2 who lost his reelection bid to Jared Golden, has requested a ballot recount, Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap confirmed November 26. Poliquin followed that up by asking for a new election, if he is still the loser after the recount.

Poliquin’s actions follow a federal judge’s November 15 dismissal of a lawsuit filed by Poliquin to stop the ranked choice vote tabulation by the Secretary of State after both candidates failed to win 50 percent of ballots cast in the race.

Golden was elected under Maine’s first ranked choice vote, an election process approved in a 2016 state referendum and reaffirmed by votes earlier this year.

Poliquin’s request for a new election came in an amended complaint filed late Tuesday, November 28, in U.S. District Court in Bangor. U.S. District Judge Lance Walker is set to hear arguments December 5 on whether Maine’s ranked choice voting system is unconstitutional, part of the initial suit filed by Poliquin.

While Poliquin seeks the court’s help to retain the congressional seat, Golden is already in Washington D.C., participating in orientation for new members of Congress, and is scheduled to be seated January 3, placing pressure to complete the recount before then.

“Dragging this process out only hurts the people we were elected to serve,” Golden said in a prepared response to the recount request.

Poliquin had led by about 2,000 votes, less than 50 percent of votes cast, before the ranked choice voting process, which distributed second-choice votes from independent candidates Tiffany Bond and William Hoar.

After the tabulation, and adding results from six towns that had not uploaded properly into election reporting software, the Office of the Secretary of State reported Golden winning by 3,509 votes, receiving 50.62 percent of the votes, 142,440 to 138,931.

Because the margin is greater than 1,000 votes, Poliquin must pay for the recount if the outcome is unchanged, according to Maine law. The recount is estimated to take four weeks.