On November 6, 2018, Maine made history by voting in the first ranked choice voting elections for federal congressional races. Every voter in Maine had the opportunity to rank their choices in the statewide contest for Senate and for the Representative from their district.
All three elections - Senate, congressional district 1, and congressional district 2 - featured three or more candidates. In the Senate contest, incumbent Independent Senator Angus King won re-election with 54.4 percent of the first round vote. In Maine's 1st congressional district, incumbent Democrat Chellie Pingree won re-election with 58.8 percent of the first round vote. However, Maine's 2nd congressional district was closely contested between incumbent Republican Bruce Poliquin and Democratic challenger Jared Golden, with two Independent candidates also participating. On Election Night, Poliquin led with just over 46 percent of first choices, while Golden had just under 46 percent. Because no candidate had the required majority to win outright, Maine began the process of running the ranked choice voting count.
FairVote partnered with the Bangor Daily News to conduct exit polls on Election Day. Those polls suggested that Golden was likely to earn a majority of the back-up support from the two Independent candidates and ultimately win the election. They also showed that over 60 percent of Maine voters wanted to either keep or expand their use of ranked choice voting, and that over 70 percent agreed it was important that candidates win with majority support.
Shortly after release of the exit poll, Bruce Poliquin filed a lawsuit asking a federal district court to halt the vote counting and declare him the winner. The judge promptly rejected that request, and later rejected Poliquin's claims entirely.
On Thursday, November 15, Maine completed the process of collecting and scanning ballots. At noon, they completed the round-by-round count, broadcast live through Facebook. In accordance with the exit poll, Jared Golden earned a majority of support from the two Independent candidates and became the apparent winner of the election. The count took only two rounds, as both Independent candidates combined had fewer votes than either of the two front-runners, and so they could be simultaneously eliminated. Poliquin attempted to contest the results both through a recount and a court challenge, but abandoned both challenges after neither seemed likely to change the result.