AUGUSTA – Maine has elected a new congressman using ranked-choice voting, but that is not the end of the hotly contested race between Repububincumbent Bruce Poliquin and his opponent Jared Golden.
A federal judge in Bangor decided Thursday morning to allow ranked-choice voting to go forward, and shortly after noon State Representative Golden was named the winner of the 2nd Congressional District race run-off, defeating Poliquin, the incumbent.
The decision was just round one of the lawsuit, filed by Poliquin, to deem ranked-choice voting unconstitutional.
“We remain confident that we’re right,” said Lee Goodman, attorney representing Poliquin. “That the ranked choice voting system, being implement right now in the state violates the constitution of the United States.”
Golden responded with thanks.
“Today, I want to start by saying how proud I am to have earned their trust, their support and their votes,” he said, shortly after the votes were tallied. “Speaking of voters, I want to thank them for educating themselves about the important issues and casting their ballots in a manner designed to ensure a consensus candidate.”
Poliquin held a slim lead with the popular vote for the 2nd Congressional District, but after the ranked-choice votes were counted, Golden was declared the winner based on the second choices of voters who cast ballots for two independent candidates in the race.
“I think the people of Maine are experimenting with a vote system that has constitutional infirmaries in it and that is one reason why this case is so important,” Goodman said.
Poliquin filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Bangor against Secretary of State Matt Dunlap on Tuesday morning asking for an emergency injunction to stop the ranked-choice vote counting, halt the tallying and to “refrain from certifying a winner.”
Federal judge Lance Walker denied the motion, saying that “Maine voters cast their ballots in reliance on the (ranked choice voting) system.”
“I think this was a good system and it’s one that’s worked well,” Golden said.
“We’re disappointed in the judge’s opinion,” Goodman said. “These are very important constitutional rights that need to be resolved, but this was just round one. The court had very little time to look at these issued. It was not fully briefed by all the parties.”
Poliquin’s attorney said he’s asked the court to expedite the next hearing in the lawsuit in order to have a decision before the governor certifies the tallies, expected to happen on or before November 26th.