Republican Representative Bruce Poliquin of Maine’s 2nd congressional district lost in his reelection bid against Democratic challenger Jared Golden. Golden, a United States Marine veteran and state legislator, was declared the winner on November 15, nine days after the polls closed.
The election was historic as Maine became the first state in the country to adopt a ranked choice voting system for all federal level elections.
Incumbents Democratic Representative Chellie Pingree of Maine’s 1st district and independent Senator Angus King easily won their first ranked choice votes. But Poliquin and Golden’s contest which also included independents Tiffany Bond and William Hoar failed to produce a winner in the first round of voting tabulation.
On ranked choice ballots, voters choose a first, second, third, etc… choice.
Under Maine’s ranked choice voting law—twice approved at the polls by Maine voters—a candidate cannot win without over 50% of the support from their constituents. In the first round, Poliquin received 46.2%, Golden received 45.5%, Bond 5.8% and Hoar 2.4%.
Under ranked choice, the second round eliminates the candidate that finished last—Hoar. Everyone who voted for that candidate has their votes transferred to their second choice. This continues until a candidate receives over 50% support.
After ranked choice tabulations, Golden received 50.5% of the votes while Poliquin received 49.5%. Golden was declared the winner of the election.
Results in CD2 tabulation pic.twitter.com/odSPYRqYax
— MaineSOS (@MESecOfState) November 15, 2018
Thanks to Maine’s ranked-choice voting system, Democrat Jared Golden has defeated drug company and NRA sweetie Bruce Poliquin. First incumbent in that district to lose his job since 1916, and it couldn’t have happened to a more deserving guy.
— Stephen King (@StephenKing) November 15, 2018
LET’S MAKE SURE HE #STAYS
— Gina (@redhed67) November 21, 2018
However once it became clear to Bruce Poliquin that he would not handily win reelection in the first round like his fellow incumbents, he attempted to stop the counting and have himself declared the winner.
Poliquin filed a request for an injunction to stop Republican Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap from tabulating the votes. Poliquin claimed the law, voted on twice by Maineiacs, was unconstitutional. Dunlap refused Poliquin’s request unless ordered to do so by a judge.
When the President Donald Trump appointed United States District Judge, Lance Walker, denied that request, Golden was declared the winner. Poliquin then amended his request to ask for either a new election or to be declared the winner. He also called for a hand count of all ballots as he claimed Dunlap used “artificial intelligence” to tabulate the votes.
@StephenKing response to Poliquin accusing Sec of State of using artificial intelligence to count the ballots. “Maine’s Secretary of State did not use ‘artificial intelligence’ to tabulate the election results, he used a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet, which was invented in 1979.”😂
— pikapika (@pikapika207) November 29, 2018
The Republican Party in Maine challenged the ranked choice voting law in the legislature and in court several times. Representative Poliquin was not a participant in any of those lawsuits by his party leading up to the election.
Poliquin never challenged ranked choice voting at all in any fashion. Until it looked like he might lose.
And that fact—that Poliquin waited until after they cast their ballots under ranked choice voting and after he might be personally affected to question the constitutionality of the law—angered his constituents.