Poliquin Sues to Stop Maine’s Ranked Choice Voting

Poliquin could lose his narrow lead under new system

Maine Rep. Bruce Poliquin is suing to stop the state’s ranked-choice voting system from going forward in his 2nd District re-election. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Maine Rep. Bruce Poliquin has sued state Attorney General Matthew Dunlap seeking an injunction to stop the tabulation of ballots under the state’s ranked-choice voting system, which is being used in his race against Democrat Jared Golden in the 2nd District.

Since no candidate received more than 50 percent of the vote, the state’s ranked-choice voting system kicked in last week. This year is the first time it’s being used at the federal level in Maine, and the 2nd District will likely be the first House race in the country to be decided under this process.

The new system lets voters rank candidates in order of preference. If no one receives a majority, the last-place finisher is eliminated and his or her votes reallocated to the candidates whom voters ranked second. The process continues until someone secures more than 50 percent of the vote.

Poliquin led Golden by less than a point on the first count, 46.2 percent to 45.5 percent. But it’s expected that Golden will pull ahead under ranked-choice voting since supporters of two independent candidates, who received a combined 8 percent of the vote, were likely to rank Golden second. 

Poliquin’s suit alleges that ranked-choice voting, which Maine voters have twice approved, violates the Constitution.

“Instead of respecting this important constitutional principle, the RCV Act directly contravenes it by denying individuals who obtained the highest number of votes after the first round of balloting — in this case, Bruce Poliquin — from being declared the winner of the general election,” the suit read, according to the Portland Press Herald.  

Golden’s campaign responded that Poliquin should have filed his suit before the election if he was really concerned about the voting process.

“Any attempt by Bruce Poliquin to change the rules after votes have already been cast is an affront to the law and to the people of Maine,” Golden campaign manager Jon Breed said in a statement.

“If Rep. Poliquin’s concerns were anything other than in self interest, he should have filed this lawsuit before votes were cast, or when the Maine Republican Party challenged Maine’s election system last year,” Breed added.

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