U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin, R-Maine, has a filed a lawsuit in federal court that seeks to block state election officials from conducting the nation’s first ranked-choice voting tabulation in a federal race. The lawsuit asserts that Maine’s ranked-choice voting law violates the U.S. Constitution in multiple ways. Among the claims: It does not award winners who obtain a plurality — or the most votes — but rather a majority by allowing voters to rank candidates in order of preference. “What bothers is me is that we do not know if this vote-counting process is legal under the United States Constitution,” Poliquin told reporters at the State House in Augusta. “My job is to make sure I uphold and defend the Constitution.”
Maine voters approved the use of ranked-choice voting in 2016. Voters rank candidates in order of preference. If one of the candidates obtains a majority after the first count, they win. If there’s no majority winner, the candidate with the fewest first-place rankings is eliminated and each of their voters’ second choices are added to the tallies of the remaining candidates. The process continues this way until the ranking tabulation produces a winner or all of the ballots are exhausted.
Poliquin’s lawsuit also asserts that ranked-choice voting violates the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment because voters who pick just one candidate in a race have less say in the outcome than those who rank multiple candidates.