by WorldTribune Staff, December 6, 2018
The Republican candidate who received the most votes in the midterm election in Maine’s 2nd Congressional District has since seen his win slip away due to the state’s new “rank voting” system.
In the “rank voting” system, voters on Nov. 6 selected their first, second, and third choices in Maine’s three federal races – one for the Senate and two for the House of Representatives.
In the 2nd District race, though Republican Bruce Poliquin had the most first place votes, no candidate received the required 50 percent-plus one vote required to win, so the race went to a second round where votes for third and fourth place candidates were allocated via computer algorithm to the top two candidates, which gave Democrat Jared Golden the win.
It was the first time in American history such a system was used in a federal election. Maine’s voters approved the new system in 2016 and reaffirmed it in June 2018.
Breitbart News reported on Dec. 5 that, under the new system, a candidate for federal office in Maine had to receive 50 percent plus one of the first place votes cast for the office. If no candidate received more than 50 percent plus one of the vote, then the second choice votes and third choice votes cast by voters whose first choice votes were cast for the third place and fourth place finishers were then allocated to the top two candidates based on a proprietary computer algorithm from an outside vendor selected by Maine’s Democrat Secretary of State.
In the Nov. 6 election, Poliquin finished in first place, receiving 131,631 votes, but did not get 50 percent plus one vote. Poliquin got 46.41 percent of the 283,643 votes cast.
Golden finished second with 128,999 votes, or 45.48 percent.
Two left-leaning Independent candidates, Tiffany Bonds (16,260 votes) and William Hoar (6,753 votes) finished third and fourth.
Under the new system, the total first place votes for Bonds and Hoar were then allocated by the computer algorithm to the top two finishers.
When all was said and done, on Nov. 15, Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap declared Golden the winner of the election.
Breitbart News noted that Golden received 10,232 votes from voters who had declared in the Nov. 6 election either Bonds or Hoar as their first choice, presumably declaring Golden on their ballots to be either their second or third choices. These additional votes gave Golden a new total of 139,231 votes, or 50.53 percent of the 275,557 votes counted in what Dunlap described as “Round 2.”
Poliquin received 4,695 votes from voters who had declared in the Nov. 6 election either Bonds or Hoar as their first choice, giving him a Round 2 total of 136,326 votes, or 49.47 percent.
A total of 8,086 votes cast by supporters of Hoar or Bonds on election day were declared “spoiled” and not counted in Round 2 because, according to Dunlap, they did not include rankings beyond the first choice.
Poliquin’s general campaign consultant Brent Littlefield said in a statement that the GOP candidate’s win “was clipped by a new ‘Rank Voting’ system employed for the first time in a U.S. Federal election giving losing candidate voters (in this case two liberal independents who finished 3rd and 4th on Election Day) a second or third choice and those additional votes allowed challenger Jared Golden (D) to go ahead. In any other state in America Bruce Poliquin would have been declared the winner of the election.”
Littlefield added: “A tremendous number of voters expressed confusion over the new process where they voted one type of ballot for state races and another type of ballot for federal races which resembled an excel spreadsheet where they could make a 2nd, 3rd, 4th or even a 5th choice, adding a write-in.”
Poliquin and several voters in the Second Congressional District have filed a lawsuit in federal court arguing that the “rank voting” system is not constitutional. On Dec. 4, federal judge Lance Walker said he would decide the case soon.
Littlefield also added that, “The computer software was declared proprietary and the Secretary of State has refused to allow an inspection of the software or algorithm.”
Dunlap announced on Dec. 3 that a recount of the Nov. 6 election in Maine’s 2nd Congressional District would take place beginning on Dec. 5 and continuing for an estimated four weeks.
Breitbart News noted that, should Poliquin win the recount or the pending lawsuit, he will be the only Republican member of the House of Representatives in the 116th Session of Congress from the six states that comprise New England – Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island, and Connecticut.