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.
The hearing ended early Wednesday afternoon with Walker saying he intended to issue a decision by next week.
Meanwhile, even as the case is being considered, a hand recount of the election is set to begin Thursday at Poliquin’s request. The recount could take up to four weeks to complete.
… Poliquin and three voters from the state’s 2nd Congressional District are suing Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap over his implementation of the law, claiming the use of ranked-choice voting violates several sections of the U.S. Constitution because the document “sets a plurality vote as the qualification for election” to Congress. Poliquin’s attorneys are leaning heavily on a previous ruling by a federal appeals court in New York that determined elections that allow for a plurality winner are constitutional.