Posted by Nancy Lavin on December 14, 2018 at 2:36 PM

Dec. 14, 2018

Contact: Nancy Lavin at [email protected] or 301.270.4616

Successful finish for ranked choice voting in Maine

Recount called off, constitutionality affirmed in 2nd Congressional District election

TAKOMA PARK, Md. -  The historic use of ranked choice voting (RCV) in Maine’s congressional elections ended on a high note with results affirmed in the 2nd Congressional District race.

Outgoing U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin announced Friday he no longer wanted to proceed with the in-progress recount he had previously requested. The decision comes a day after a federal court judge dismissed lawsuit filed by Poliquin and the Maine Republican Party and upheld the constitutionality of RCV.

“Congressman Poliquin’s decision to end his request for a recount underscores how normal ranked choice voting elections are,” said Rob Richie, president and CEO of FairVote. “Trailing by 1.2 percentage points in the instant runoff was no different than trailing by that margin in a single-choice election - such margins are far larger than what is likely to change in a recount.”

With the series of challenges settled - legal scholars have deemed a possible appeal unlikely to pass muster after U.S. District Court Judge Lance Walker’s detailed and convincing opinion - voters can rest assured the votes they cast will stand and U.S. Rep-elect Jared Golden can prepare to join his colleagues in Congress.

Maine made history this November by becoming the first state to use of ranked choice voting to elect a U.S. Senator and two House members. Unlike the Senate and 1st District races, which declared winners based on majority outcomes in first choices, the four-way 2nd District race required a ranked choice tally to determine the outcome.

No candidate crossed the 50 percent mark in the first round - Democratic challenger Jared Golden and Poliquin each earned about 46 percent of the vote with the remaining 8 percent in support of the two independents. Golden emerged the winner under the “instant” runoff, earning more than two-thirds of votes from independent candidate supporters.

Contrary to Poliquin’s claims that the innovative voting system confused voters, official results from the Secretary of State’s office confirm their understanding and appreciation for RCV. More than 99.8 percent of 2nd District voters cast valid first choices, while about 50 percent ranked at least two candidates, with an even higher percentage of rankings used among those who supported independent candidates.

Moreover, a decisive 75 percent majority of voters from both political parties said RCV was easy and more than 62 percent emphasized the importance of majority winners, according to an exit survey conducted by FairVote in partnership with The Bangor Daily News and Colby College.

“Maine voters have demonstrated beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are ready for ranked choice voting,” Richie said. “They voted for it twice, and they came to the polls in record numbers for this year’s elections, with all measures showing they were ready and eager to rank their choices.”

U.S. District Court Judge Lance Walker’s definitive ruling not only served to strengthen the case for ranked choice voting in November, but also paved the way for its expansion to other races in Maine and to states across the nation.

As Walker wrote, “the American experiment in republican-representative government neither began nor ended with ratification of the Constitution. The values that informed Article I not only inspired the Revolution, but also continued a purposeful evolution in our national experiment in representative government.”


FairVote is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that advocates for electoral reforms that make democracy work better for everyone.

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