Maine judge delays decision on removing Trump from ballot until Supreme Court rules in Colorado case | David Sharp and Nicholas Riccardi/Associated Press

A Maine judge has postponed a decision on former President Donald Trump’s ballot status in the state’s presidential primary, allowing time for the U.S. Supreme Court to rule on a similar case in Colorado. Trump’s lawyers appealed when Secretary of State Shenna Bellows removed him from the primary ballot, requesting a pause for the Supreme Court to rule on the Colorado case, potentially making the Maine lawsuit irrelevant. Although the judge lacked authority to stay proceedings, she determined that she could send the case back to the secretary of state to await the Supreme Court’s decision before taking further action. Read Article

Maine House votes down GOP effort to impeach top election official | David Sharp/Associated Press

The Maine House rejected a Republican attempt to impeach Secretary of State Shenna Bellows, who removed former President Donald Trump from the state’s primary ballot over his alleged role in the January 6, 2021, Capitol attack. The resolution was voted down 80-60, with Republicans arguing that Bellows’ decision disenfranchised over 300,000 Trump voters in the state. Bellows, who invoked the 14th Amendment’s insurrection clause, remains steadfast in her decision, stating that any disagreement should be resolved in the courts. Colorado is the only other state to bar Trump from the ballot, with the decision under appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. Read Article

Maine elections clerks field “frivolous requests” in apparent effort to sow distrust | Caitlin Andrews/Maine Monitor

Clerks across the state have just nine weeks until the pivotal 2022 elections. But their tasks increasingly include responding to misinformed election data requests rooted in national efforts to sow distrust in the process. The requests are part of a national trend that is slowing down clerks’ ability to do their jobs. Those efforts stem from skeptics who believe that former President Donald Trump should have won the November 2020 general election, despite officials in several states finding no evidence of widespread fraud. The deluge has also sparked fears from Maine’s top election official that it could end up undermining the public’s trust in the process as already burdened clerks stretch to handle the number of requests. “Every hour state and local election officials spend answering frivolous requests is an hour away from the detailed and important work of preparing for our elections,” said Shenna Bellows, the Maine Secretary of State. One of the requests the state has been inundated with is a notice of prospective litigation and demand for records retention, which appears to be a copy-cat notice that election officials in Massachusetts and Kentucky have received. A template for that letter has been linked to Terpsichore “Tore” Maras, a QAnon conspiracy theory promoter and election skeptic who attempted to run for Ohio’s secretary of state office.

Full Article: Maine elections clerks field “frivolous requests” in apparent effort to sow distrust

Maine modernizes election administration with centralized voter registration | Shourjya Mookerjee/GCN

To make needed upgrades to its election systems and improve voter access, Maine is getting a modernized centralized voter registration and election management system. On April 15, Secretary of State Shenna Bellows signed a $1.8 million contract with Stonewall Solutions. The centralized system will help state and municipal-level election officials securely maintain voter rolls, facilitate absentee and in-person voting and capture voter participation history. Public-facing online portals will accommodate absentee ballot requests and tracking, online voter registration and voter information lookup, according to a release. A centralized system will also increase election security, better protect voters’ personally identifiable information and improve voter list maintenance and election administration consistency. Maine’s current system, which officials called the first statewide Central Voter Registration system, was launched  in 2007, after the Help America Vote Act of 2002 identified issues in voting systems and voter access following the 2000 election. A June 2021 request for information for a central voter registration and election management system said the current system would not be able to accommodate potential future election law changes. Since there is no county-level election administration in Maine, elections require coordination between the state and the state’s approximately 500 municipalities, where voting takes place.

Full Article: Maine modernizes election administration with centralized voter registration – GCN

Maine’s top election official seeks funding to conduct post-voting audits | Randy Billings/Portland Press Herald

Secretary of State Shenna Bellows asked state lawmakers on Monday to provide funding for five new positions so the state can conduct regular election audits and provide year-round training for municipal election clerks. Maine is one of only six states that does not have a formal election auditing program and the only state controlled by Democrats that does not conduct post-election audits. The Legislature passed a bill last year to add the positions, estimated to cost about $525,000 a year, but the bill has been sitting on the appropriations table, waiting to be funded. Bellows urged the State and Local Government Committee and the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee to recommend including the funding in the supplemental budget being negotiated in the Legislature. “We would be very willing and eager to move forward, should the committee decide to suggest those five positions as an amendment to the budget,” Bellows told the State and Local Government committee. Gov. Janet Mills proposed a list of spending priorities in her supplemental budget proposal, with half of the projected $822 million surplus going to rebate checks to taxpayers. But Mills also left about $12 million for lawmakers to spend on other priorities. Mills is expected to submit a change package this week, which outline plans for an additional $411 million in revenue projected through mid-2023, so that figure could increase.

Full Article: Maine’s top election official seeks funding to conduct post-voting audits – Portland Press Herald

Maine: Harsher punishment sought for those who threaten election workers | Randy Billings/Portland Press Herald

Municipal clerks who oversee local, state and federal elections asked Maine lawmakers Wednesday to make it a felony to harass, threaten or intimidate election workers. But the measure is being opposed by some who say incarcerating more people is not the answer. Clerks said they have noticed higher tensions and more confrontations with angry and misinformed voters, and the situation is making it harder to find poll workers. State officials said they have received two reports of threats against election workers since the 2020 presidential election, which some Republicans have falsely claimed was rigged and rife with voter fraud. Details about specific incidents were not made available, but Waterville City Clerk Patti Dubois said election workers are experiencing increased hostility and threats, both in person at polling locations and online through social media. “Being on the receiving end of a voter’s profanity-laced rants (is) commonplace now,” Dubois said. “At least one clerk in Maine has received a credible death threat from a voter. Technology has made it unbelievably easy for misinformed citizens to threaten election officials. Email, voicemail and social media are platforms easily used that allow a degree of anonymity. We cannot become desensitized to this disturbing trend.”

Full Article: Harsher punishment sought for those who threaten election workers in Maine – Portland Press Herald

Maine secretary of state seeks to protect election officials, ballot and voting machine integrity | Phil Hirschkorn/WMTW

One year after the Capitol riot, Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows, who oversees state elections, believes the nation’s democracy is living through a critical moment. “Because unfortunately, the events of January 6 were an attempt, a violent overthrow of the legitimate results of the election. What we have seen since are multiple efforts to threaten election workers,” Bellows said in an interview at the State House. Even in Maine, with one of the highest voter turnout rates and a reputation for smooth elections, in the past year, at least two election officials received credible threats to do them harm. In addition, Maine’s only incarcerated Capitol riot defendant, Kyle Fitzsimons, called Bellows’ office nine days after the riot. “I’m not gonna stop until I get the results and cleanliness I need in my government,” Fitzsimons told a staff member, according to the report filed with Maine State Police. Bellows said, “When you receive a call like that, you do not know how to differentiate between whether that person is actually then going to take physical action or not.”

Full Article: Maine secretary of state seeks to protect election officials

Maine eyes securing voter data from partisan activists pushing election misinformation | Steve Mistler/Maine Public Radio

The 2020 presidential election ended more than a year ago, but efforts to undermine public confidence in the result by pro-Trump activists — and by Trump himself — continue. Some are pushing for what they call “audits” and access to voter information to promote a conspiracy theory that the former president is the victim of a plot to deny him a second term. At the same time, supporters of a new bill in Maine are proposing to tighten the chain of custody of ballots and voting equipment. Disputes over who has access to counted ballots have been exceedingly rare in Maine. The most recent was in a state senate race in 2014, when 21 ballots from the tiny town of Long Island were mistakenly counted twice on election night. A more serious episode occurred nearly three decades ago when an aide to the then-Democratic House Speaker pled guilty to ballot tampering charges during a recount of two House races. State Rep. Teresa Pierce, a Falmouth Democrat who has backed bills to expand voting access, says state and local election officials have a sterling record of running secure elections and protecting voter information.

Full Article: Maine eyes securing voter data from partisan activists pushing election misinformation | Maine Public

Maine: Push to audit 2020 election takes cues from fraught effort in Arizona | Scott Thistle/Portland Press Herald

On a sunny afternoon at the Windsor Fair last week, Norene Libby and Liliana Thelander were busy collecting and notarizing signatures from fairgoers that call for a “forensic audit” of Maine’s 2020 election results. They worked from a booth next to the Kennebec County Republican Party’s small building, at a station replete with a red, white and blue banner sign that read: “Maine 2020 Presidential Election, Forensic Audit Affidavits.” The pair could not say precisely what signing the affidavit was meant to accomplish, but they suggested the documents could be used in a future court case that seemed ill-defined. “It’s exercising your constitutional rights,” Libby said, when asked why someone should sign the document. The campaign is part of an ongoing multistate effort to perpetuate the falsehood – often called the Big Lie – that former President Donald Trump actually won the 2020 election. In Arizona, Trump’s backers convinced the state senate, which is controlled by Republicans, to force an audit of the state’s election results by outside groups with no expertise. In a months-long effort the group, the Cyber Ninjas, has produced no evidence of inaccurate results in Arizona, although the work is reportedly still incomplete.

Full Article: Push to audit Maine’s 2020 election takes cues from fraught effort in Arizona – Portland Press Herald

Maine: Bill would audit election results as a way to promote voter confidence | Scott Thistle/Portland Press Herald

A bill that would see Maine join 34 other states in conducting post-election audits won support Monday before the Legislature’s Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee, even though there has been no evidence that Maine election results are inaccurate. “At its heart, this bill is about promoting ongoing election integrity and public confidence in our elections,” Secretary of State Shenna Bellows said in testimony supporting the legislation. “It’s not about what we’re not doing. Maine elections are well run. It’s about what we can do in the future to prevent problems before they occur.” The bill, sponsored by Rep. Nicole Grohoski, D-Ellsworth, follows a 2020 election cycle in the United States that saw baseless claims of election malfeasance by former President Donald Trump. The election also saw record voter turnout in Maine and a record number of Mainers use the state’s absentee voter system to cast their ballots during the COVID-19 pandemic. Grohoski said her bill would create a system of checks and balances to build on Maine’s already strong election system, which is largely managed by town and city clerks, the state’s front-line election officials. “Public confidence in our elections is of the utmost importance and must be earned, not taken for granted,” she said.

Full Article: Bill would audit Maine election results as a way to promote voter confidence – Portland Press Herald

Maine bill to change absentee voting law opposed by some Republicans | Scott Thistle/Portland Press Herald

A bill that would give Maine municipal clerks more time to process absentee ballots ran into opposition Monday from some Republican lawmakers who raised concerns about whether it would increase the risk of voter fraud. The processing time for absentee ballots was extended from four days to seven for the last election under an executive order issued by Gov. Janet Mills in response to high demand from residents who wanted to avoid voting in person to reduce their risk of contracting COVID-19. A bill to make the seven-day processing period permanent is among dozens of measures before the Legislature’s Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee that would affect elections and voting. The bill is supported by Secretary of State Shenna Bellows and several nonprofits that support changing ballot-processing procedures. Bellows said early processing last year allowed Maine to compile unofficial results for most races by the end of election night, despite record voter turnout. But during a committee hearing Monday, Reps. Mary Anne Kinney and Josanne Dolloff questioned whether increasing the time for processing ballots would increase the risk of fraud. “Is it possible that the town clerk may not like one of the candidates on that ballot and as she opens them and uncreases them somehow they just don’t fit into that machine, because she finds one candidate is getting too many votes, is that a possibility?” asked Dolloff, of Rumford.

Full Article: Bill to change absentee voting law opposed by some Republicans – Portland Press Herald

Maine Secretary of State Dunlap says off-stage events are what he’ll remember most | Scott Thistle/Portland Press Herald

In his 14 years as Maine’s secretary of state, Matt Dunlap has played a high-profile role in a host of voting and election issues, ranging from lawsuits over ranked-choice voting to safely overseeing in-person voting during the COVID-19 pandemic. But Dunlap says it’s the things that never make the news that he will remember most. Like the time he made a teenager, battling terminal cancer, smile. As the top official in the agency that runs the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, Dunlap takes a hands-on approach, including serving occasionally as a driver’s license examiner who gives road tests to license applicants. The 17-year-old girl had been unable to complete the 70 hours of supervised driving required under state law for taking a driver’s exam, so Dunlap helped arrange an honorary road test for her in the parking lot of a closed Kmart. The girl’s parents rode along in the back seat, Dunlap said, while the teen, “with a morphine pump slung over her shoulder,” completed the mock road test administered by Dunlap.Dunlap  told her she would have passed a real test, and when he presented her with a replica motor vehicle registration plate with her name stamped on it, she burst into a smile, hugged Dunlap and started to cry. She died three months later, and Dunlap received a thank you letter from her mother saying it was the first time she had seen her daughter smile in months.

Full Article: Dunlap says off-stage events are what he’ll remember most – Portland Press Herald


Maine: Visually impaired voters sue state over lack of accessible absentee ballots | Megan Gray/Portland Press Herald

A group of voters has sued the state and several municipalities, arguing that the state violated federal law by not providing an electronic alternative to paper ballots for people who are visually impaired. State officials encouraged voters to use absentee ballots during this week’s primary to minimize the risk of people gathering at polling places and spreading COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. Every polling place in Maine has an accessible voting machine for people with disabilities, but paper ballots are the only option for most people who want to vote absentee. Four voters from different Maine communities filed the lawsuit in federal court in Bangor on Tuesday. Disability Rights Maine is representing the plaintiffs, each of whom requested an electronic ballot to vote absentee but were denied. The suit names Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap and municipal clerks in Portland, Augusta, Bangor and Winslow. While the state allows a voter to receive assistance in reading or marking their absentee ballots, the plaintiffs argue that option compromises their ability to vote independently and privately.

Maine: Voters get mixed messages on mail-in ballot postage | Edward D. Murphy/Portland Press Herald

Thousands of Mainers are switching to absentee voting, but many are encountering a quandary over how much postage to put on their mail-in ballots. And they’re getting mixed answers from their town officials, who often provide either wrong advice or no guidance. Charlie Bernstein of Augusta said a notification that came with his ballots for next week’s primary election said he would need a 55 cent stamp, the same amount as a first-class letter, to mail in his absentee ballots. But when he went to his local post office to buy the postage, he was told it would cost 70 cents because of the weight of the ballots for the Democratic primary, a local school budget and the state ballot for bond questions. Bernstein wasn’t concerned about the extra 15 cents, but he got to wondering what would happen if he had sent his ballots with the 55 cent stamp he was told he would need. Would it go to a dead letter box? Get returned to him for more postage? Be delayed beyond the 8 p.m. July 14 deadline and not be counted? The answers are no, no and no.

Maine: Cities and towns push absentee voting for July election reshaped by virus | Jessica Piper/Bangor Daily News

With most Mainers hunkered down amid the coronavirus outbreak, Susan Skidgell has been calling regular voters and asking if they want to request an absentee ballot for the July election. As deputy clerk for Mapleton, Castle Hill and Chapman — three Aroostook County towns with a combined population of 2,700 — she is trying to minimize the number of people who show up to polls on July 14 while ensuring the pandemic does not stop anyone from voting. “I have the time to do that right now,” Skidgell said. “I don’t know that the bigger towns would have the time to do that.” Maine is regularly one of the states with the highest voter turnout and has ranked highly in studies on ballot access with no-reason-necessary absentee ballots and same-day registration. The onus will be on cities and towns to ensure a safe summer election as they struggle to find poll workers. Even registering to vote is more of a challenge with municipal offices closed.

Maine: State may struggle to claim federal pandemic funding for elections | Scott Thistle/Portland Press Herald

Maine may struggle to claim its share of $400 million in federal funding designated to help states conduct elections safely during the coronavirus pandemic. The federal money, included in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, would help pay for such measures as installing barriers in polling places, training poll workers and covering the costs of casting ballots by mail. But because the law requires states to provide a 20 percent match for the federal funds, Maine may not be able to access the money, according to Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap, who oversees elections. With the Legislature currently adjourned, the state has no way to appropriate the $658,000 needed to match the $3.2 million in federal funds available to Maine. “Things we could use the extra revenue for could include postage for extra absentee ballots, space costs for relocated polling stations, Plexiglass and other spacing barriers for social distancing, to pay for extra or replacement poll workers, and a few other things,” Dunlap said in a written statement. He said Maine’s congressional delegation is trying to amend the CARES act to help make the funding more readily available.

Maine: High voter turnout drives long lines; some towns forced to photocopy ballots after running low | WMTW

Maine’s top election official said turnout in the presidential primary election was heavier than expected on Super Tuesday. Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap said he’d projected turnout of 15 percent Tuesday, but final turnout will surpass that projection. Long lines were reported across the state, particularly Tuesday evening after people got out of work. Some towns had to get permission from the Secretary of State’s Office to print photocopies of ballots after running low.

If you hear your town is running low on ballots, no worries- we are granting permission to municipalities (upon request) to photocopy ballots as needed. They’ll be hand-counted, as tabulators cannot process them. Be assured: You will receive a ballot and it will be counted!

— MaineSOS (@MESecOfState) March 4, 2020

The law allows Dunlap to certify more copies being made in order to ensure everyone can vote.

Maine: Voter database unaffected after computers in Maine election office hit by cyber attack | Christopher Burns/Bangor Daily News

A virus hit several state computers and servers, including in the state’s election office, on Wednesday afternoon, the Maine secretary of state’s office said. The virus was detected about 3 p.m. and affected Maine Bureau of Corporations, Elections and Commissions staff computers, two servers at the Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles and a server at the Maine State Archive, according to Kristen Schulze Muszynski, a spokeswoman for the Maine secretary of state’s office. The Bureau of Motor Vehicles’ servers are only used for internal testing purposes, while the state archive server is used for scanning documents. The Office of Information Technology and the secretary of state’s office are working to restore computer services, Muszynski said Thursday morning. They were expected to be restored later on Thursday. No public data was accessed and the state’s voter database was not affected, she said. The cyber attack consisted of 1,600 emails, but only 18 emails reached employee inboxes, Muszynski said, adding that the virus appeared to have entered through a spam email that included a malicious link.

Maine: Secretary of State Dunlap disappointed by Senate failure to respond to election interference | Colin Woodard/Portland Press Herald

The U.S. Senate adjourned Thursday for a five-week recess without taking up a series of bipartisan bills aimed at securing the election systems from foreign interference. Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap, who oversees Maine’s elections and served on President Trump’s ill-fated election fraud commission, said he was disappointed but not surprised by the Senate’s failure to respond. “In this climate, I never expected anything to come out of Congress,” Dunlap told the Press Herald. “We do have to be concerned with congressional inaction because things are developing so rapidly and states need help keeping up with the bad guys.” The bills – which would have helped state and local governments tighten election security and purchase voting machines that provide a paper trail that can be consulted in the event digital tampering is suspected – were blocked by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., prompting critics to nickname him “Moscow Mitch” and denounce him as a “Russian asset.”

Maine: Republicans may seek to overturn ranked-choice voting | Lewiston Sun Journal

After ranked-choice voting helped Democrats defeat two-term Republican U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin in November, it’s perhaps no surprise that GOP leaders are eyeing the possibility of wiping away the new voting method. “We must go after this bad precedent,” former Gov. Paul LePage wrote recently to members of the Republican state committee. The two GOP leaders in the state Senate and the state House urged Republican officials to pick former state Sen. Garrett Mason of Lisbon as the next party chair in part because he can raise the money necessary to “directly assist with campaigns, such as the repeal of ranked choice voting.”

Maine: Governor Writes ‘Stolen Election’ On Certification For Democrat Congressman-Elect | Newsweek

After a lengthy recount process and two-month legal battle in the election of Maine’s 2nd Congressional District, Maine Gov. Paul LePage signed the certifying letter Democrat Jared Golden as the new member to Congress. But LePage put his own personal stamp on the certificate. Next to his PRL initials, LePage wrote “Stolen Election.” He sent a tweet with the photo and yet another remark for the world to see. “I’ve signed off on the CD2 election result as it’s no longer in federal court. Ranked Choice Voting didn’t result in a true majority as promised-simply a plurality measured differently. It didn’t keep big money out of politics & didn’t result in a more civil election #mepolitics”

Maine: LePage, calling ranked-choice voting ‘repugnant,’ hasn’t certified Golden’s win. But it may not matter. | Portland Press Herald

Gov. Paul LePage declined to get involved in Rep. Bruce Poliquin’s latest legal request, but not without getting in another dig at a ranked-choice voting process he views as “repugnant.” Meanwhile, attorneys for Poliquin and Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap sparred over whether Dunlap exceeded his authority by certifying Democrat Jared Golden as the winner of Maine’s 2nd District race without LePage’s signature. “Under the U.S. Constitution, it is now up to the United States House of Representatives to determine, when it convenes on January 3, 2019, whether to seat Jared Golden, who is the undisputed winner of the ranked-choice voting tabulation under the RCV Act and thus the Representative-elect for Maine’s Second Congressional District,” Assistant Attorney General Phyllis Gardiner wrote on Dunlap’s behalf.

Maine: Rep. Poliquin to appeal ruling upholding his loss in ranked-choice election | Portland Press Herald

Rep. Bruce Poliquin is appealing a recent federal judge’s rejection of his lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of ranked-choice voting. Poliquin and three other residents of Maine’s 2nd Congressional District filed a notice of appeal Monday, four days after a U.S. District Court judge dismissed his constitutional arguments and refused to order a new election. Attorneys for Poliquin said they plan to file a brief Tuesday with the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston. The two-term Republican lost the 2nd District election to Democratic Rep.-elect Jared Golden in the nation’s first use of ranked-choice voting to decide a congressional race. Poliquin trails Golden by more than 3,500 votes and has sought to overturn an election process that his campaign claims was confusing for many voters and potentially violated the U.S. Constitution.

Maine: Poliquin ends recount but may still appeal court decision upholding ranked-choice voting | Portland Press Herald

Rep. Bruce Poliquin on Friday ended the hand recount of ballots cast in Maine’s 2nd Congressional District race, but might still appeal a federal judge’s ruling on his constitutional challenge of ranked-choice voting. In a statement, Poliquin pointed out that he captured the most votes on Election Day – a fact that has never been in question – but said he is ending the recount. With more than 50 percent of the recount complete, Poliquin had yet to pick up a substantial number of votes in the ranked-choice runoff that would allow him to surpass Democratic Rep.-elect Jared Golden. Poliquin, a two-term Republican, trails Golden by more than 3,500 votes following the nation’s first use of ranked-choice voting to decide a congressional election.

Maine: Recount Is a Low-Drama Affair — Unlike the Election | Roll Call

Maine lawyers Benjamin Grant and Joshua Tardy are used to being holed up together. For at least eight hours a day over the past week, they’ve rubbed shoulders in a cramped conference room in Augusta, overseeing the hand recount of the nearly 300,000 ballots cast in Maine’s 2nd District. “We’re like Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner,” Tardy joked. “You gotta have each other.” Grant, a Democrat, and Tardy, a Republican, have handled most of the state House and Senate recounts in the Pine Tree State for the past decade. GOP Rep. Bruce Poliquin requested the recount of the 2nd District after losing to Democrat Jared Golden last month under the new ranked-choice voting system.  The mechanics of this recount are slightly different, but the intimacy of the process — with opposing campaigns examining paper ballots side by side — is similar to what happens across the country when the counting, for one reason or another, must begin anew. 

Maine: Judge rules out new election for Poliquin in decision upholding Maine’s ranked-choice voting | Portland Press Herald

A federal judge on Thursday rejected Republican U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin’s constitutional claims against ranked-choice voting and denied the incumbent’s request for a new election against Democratic Rep.-elect Jared Golden. U.S. District Court Judge Lance Walker ruled that, contrary to the arguments of Poliquin’s legal team, the U.S. Constitution does not require that whichever congressional candidate receives the most votes – or “a plurality” – be declared the winner. Instead, Walker ruled the Constitution grants states broad discretion to run elections and that “there is nothing inherently improper about an election that requires a contestant to achieve victory by a majority,” including by the use of the ranked-choice runoff system endorsed twice by Maine voters. “To the extent that the Plaintiffs call into question the wisdom of using RCV, they are free to do so but . . . such criticism falls short of constitutional impropriety,” Walker wrote. “A majority of Maine voters have rejected that criticism and Article I (of the U.S. Constitution) does not empower this Court to second guess the considered judgment of the polity on the basis of the tautological observation that RCV may suffer from problems, as all voting systems do.”

Maine: With 2nd District recount set to start, judge says he’ll rule soon on ranked-choice challenge | Portland Press Herald

A federal judge is expected to decide within the next few days whether Maine’s first-in-the-nation ranked-choice election for Congress will stand.  Attorneys for Rep. Bruce Poliquin and the Maine Attorney General’s Office argued in federal court Wednesday over the constitutionality of Maine’s voting law and the election process that propelled Jared Golden, a Democrat, to a victory over the two-term Republican incumbent Poliquin in the race to represent state’s more northern and rural 2nd U.S. Congressional District. Poliquin’s lawyers are asking U.S. District Judge Lance Walker to rule that the law, passed by voters in November 2016 and affirmed with a citizens’ veto vote in June, violates the U.S. Constitution. They are arguing that Poliquin should either be declared the winner based on the fact he won the plurality of votes in the first round of counting or that there should be a special election, or runoff, between Golden and Poliquin.

Maine: Long recount could leave Maine’s 2nd District seat vacant when Congress begins new term | Central Maine

The recount that began Thursday in Maine’s 2nd Congressional District race could leave the seat vacant and the district without representation when Congress convenes in January. House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi and a Republican House staff member involved in the seating decision issued conflicting opinions on the matter Thursday, making it uncertain whether Maine will have a 2nd District representative if the recount isn’t completed before new members of Congress are sworn in Jan. 3. Workers from the Maine Secretary of State’s Office gathered in a converted conference room Thursday and started the arduous task of hand-counting the 300,000 ballots cast in the election, which saw Democratic challenger Jared Golden beat incumbent Republican Bruce Poliquin by about 3,500 votes. Poliquin asked for the recount on Nov. 26 after Golden was declared the winner. Poliquin also has filed a lawsuit in federal court challenging the constitutionality of the ranked-choice voting system.

Maine: Poliquin’s election challenge faces long odds | Portland Press Herald

Lawyers for Republican U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin and the Democrat who defeated him will square off in federal court Wednesday in a case with ramifications far beyond Maine’s rural, sprawling 2nd District no matter the outcome. For U.S. Rep.-elect Jared Golden and supporters of ranked-choice voting, the election ended two weeks ago after the Democrat emerged from an instant runoff leading Poliquin by 3,509 votes. Yet Poliquin and his team are aiming for more than just a reversal of the election results as they push to make Maine the national, legal test case for ranked-choice voting in any federal election. “Whether a state can go beyond a plurality that is currently provided for in (the Constitution) is an open question the Supreme Court has never decided,” Lee Goodman, Poliquin’s attorney and a former chairman of the Federal Election Commission, said last month.

Maine: Ballot recount in 2nd Congressional District race starts Thursday | Portland Press Herald

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.