Federal Judge Rejects Challenge to Maine’s Ranked-Choice Voting System

A federal judge in Maine validated the state's ranked-choice voting law Thursday, rejecting GOP Rep. Bruce Poliquin's legal challenge to the new system. (United States Congress)

December 14, 2018

By Simone Pathe

WASHINGTON — A federal judge in Maine validated the state’s ranked-choice voting law Thursday, which was used for the first time in a federal election in the state’s 2nd District this year.

U.S. District Court Judge Lance Walker rejected GOP Rep. Bruce Poliquin’s legal challenge to the new system, according to the Portland Press Herald. Walker ruled that the new voting process did not violate the Constitution.

Poliquin tweeted a statement raising concerns about the confusion around ranked-choice voting but did not directly address whether his team would appeal Walker’s decision.

Democrat Jared Golden won the election under ranked-choice, but Poliquin decided to challenge the voting system in court. He’s also instigated a recount, which is expected to take several weeks.

Poliquin led Golden by less than a point on the first count, but since neither candidate received 50 percent of the vote, the state’s ranked-choice voting system kicked in to determine the winner.

The new system, which voters have twice approved at the ballot box, 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.

A federal judge had already rejected a lawsuit from Poliquin that sought to stop the secretary of state from running the ranked-choice voting tabulation.

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