Thursday, 13 December 2018 18:21

Federal Judge rejects Poliquin's Ranked Choice Voting challenge Featured

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BANGOR - A federal judge on Thursday rejected the legal challenge by Rep. Bruce Poliquin against Maine's ranked-choice voting.

No one seemed surprised.

“This is the decision I anticipated given Judge Walker's previous order rejecting Mr. Poliquin's attempt to stop the vote counting,” said Kyle Bailey, the Committee for Ranked Choice Voting campaign manager.

“When the judge rules in your favor, as it is in this case, it kind of affirms what you've done,” said Matt Dunlap, Maine's Secretary of State. “I think in this case, both for the legislature and the voters of Maine and myself, this is a real affirmation that the voters of Maine have sovereign control over how they conduct their elections.”

He added, “It's gratifying in that degree that we're on the right track.”

U.S. District Court Judge Lance Walker issued a 30-page ruling dismissing each of Poliquin's challenges.

“This is the first time that the courts have weighed in on a federal level on a state's use of ranked-choice voting,” Bailey said. “And specifically address questions of the First Amendment, the 14th Amendment, which includes due process, and specifically the court is saying ranked-choice voting upholds the principle of one person, one vote.”

Bailey added the ruling means ranked-choice could spread.

“My bigger message to the country is, 'Get ready to rank America' because ranked-choice voting is coming to a community near you,” Bailey said.

Poliquin won the plurality vote, but without a majority, a ranked-choice runoff was held and he lost his seat to State Rep. Jared Golden by about 3,500. A hand recount is currently underway.

Poliquin issued a statement Thursday on Twitter saying the issue "goes far beyond one election" but it's still not clear if he will appeal the decision.

“If Jared Golden is not seated on Jan. 3, the people of Maine's 2nd district will be harmed because he will lose seniority, he will lose a number of the other benefits that his freshman members, his colleagues would gain,” said John Breed, Golden's campaign manager. “So it is in the best interest of the people of Maine.

“I think that adds to the sense of urgency to finish up this process so that we can actually certify a winner and have representation in the 2nd CD,” Dunlap said.

With the recount already more than halfway done, it appears it will be completed before Jan. 3, which is when the next Congress will be sworn into office.

Nit-Noi Ricker

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Nit-Noi Ricker is an Army brat who grew up on a farm in Winterport. She went to the University of Maine and the University of Northern Texas to learn how to be a journalist and started her career in Arizona at the Williams-Grand Canyon News, ...