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November 8, 2018

With Poliquin holding the lead, ranked-choice tabulations begin Friday

Photo / Mainebiz, from candidate photos Incumbent U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin, R-2nd District, right, holds a slight lead over his Democratic challenger Jared Golden. Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap said with neither candidate hitting the 50% threshold to be declared the outright winner, the race will be determined by the ranked-choice voting process that begins on Friday

Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap, Maine’s top election official, confirmed Wednesday that the District 2 race between Republican incumbent Bruce Poliquin and his Democratic challenger Jared Golden will require the ranked-choice voting process.

That’s because, with almost 90% of the 418 voting precincts being tabulated, neither candidate has topped the 50% threshold needed to avoid tabulating voters' secondary choices.

Politico reported at 9:30 a.m. today that Poliquin was holding a narrow 921-vote lead over Golden: 126,467 to 125,546, with 88.3% of precincts reporting. That puts Poliquin ahead with 46.1% of the vote against Golden’s 45.7%, according to Politico.

Here are the tallies reported by Politico at 9:30 a.m. today for the two independent candidates in the race: Tiffany Bond, 15,909, or 5.8% of the vote; William Hoar, 6,682, or 2.4% of the vote.

Next steps

Dunlap reported that ballot collection will begin today throughout District 2, with processing of the ballots to begin at 9 a.m. Friday at the centralized tabulation site in the Elkins Building (on the former AMHI campus, 19 Elkins Lane, Augusta.

Staff members must log, unlock and unseal each ballot box from hand-count towns to scan the ballots using a high-speed tabulator. For towns and cities that use electronic ballot tabulators, the staff will log, unseal and upload all the memory devices from those tabulators before loading all the votes into the results program. They will then certify the results to ensure accuracy.

Dunlap reported that final, official results of the ranked-choice voting tabulation will be released as soon as they are available, most likely during the week of Nov. 12.

Tabulations will continue during regular business hours starting Friday (9 a.m. to 5 p.m.) and will include Saturday, Nov. 10, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and the Veterans Day holiday, Monday, Nov. 12, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., until the tabulation process is completed.

How the counties voted

In its county-by-county analysis of District 2 voting, Politico reported that Poliquin is leading Golden (in the straightforward unranked tally) in Penobscot (+3%), Oxford (+1%); Aroostook (+12%); Kennebec, (+3%); Washington, (+6%); and Piscataquis (+15%) counties.

Golden leads Poliquin in Androscoggin (+2%); Hancock (+16%); Waldo (+13%); Franklin (+7%) counties.

Under ranked-choice voting, the slightly more than 8% of voters who chose either Bond or Hoar as their preferred candidate also were able to rank their second and third choices. Depending on how many did so, those ranked votes could shift the lead from Poliquin to Golden (or not).

In the tabulations set to begin on Friday, the candidate with the least amount of votes is eliminated, and their voters’ second-choice candidates will get their votes instead. If someone hits more than 50% in that second round, a winner is declared. If not, the next candidate with the lowest votes gets eliminated again, and those votes are applied to the voters’ next choice until either Poliquin or Golden gets a majority.

In any case, it’s the first time in American history that ranked-choice voting is being used to decide a U.S. House race, according to an Associated Press report on Maine Public. 

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