The lengthy town-by-town recount of nearly 300,000 ballots cast in Maine’s 2nd Congressional District race will begin Thursday morning, according to the Secretary of State’s Office. Republican U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin requested the recount after a tabulation of the ballots using Maine’s ranked-choice voting system showed him trailing Democrat Jared Golden by 3,509 votes. Poliquin is also challenging the constitutionality of ranked-choice voting in court. The recount is expected to take as long as four weeks as teams from the two campaigns hand-count each ballot in every municipality, setting aside any disputed ballots. The process is repeated for each round of ranked-choice voting as the teams tabulate the second- and third-choice preferences of voters whose candidates were eliminated from contention.
Secretary of State Matt Dunlap’s office announced Monday that the recount will begin at 9 a.m. Thursday in Room 110 of the Elkins Building, which is at 19 Elkins Lane on the former Augusta Mental Health Institute campus. Members of the public and the media can watch the recount, which will be suspended from Dec. 24 to Jan. 3 for the holidays.
Maine State Police will be sent this week to retrieve paper ballots from municipalities that sent digital images of scanned ballots to Augusta for the ranked-choice tabulation Nov. 15.
“About one-third of the CD2 ballots are already in hand: The ballots from all hand-count municipalities in Congressional District 2 have been retained at the secure tabulation site from the initial tabulation effort,” Dunlap’s office said in a media release. “Additionally, all ballots from Hancock County are on hand due to a county Judge of Probate recount. Maine State Police will collect additional ballots as directed by the recount supervisor.”