RCV brings down another Republican

I wrote yesterday about how the incumbent Republican for Maine’s 2nd district Bruce Poliquin sued to stop the second and third choice votes of the third and fourth place candidates from being counted and argued that he should be declared the winner based on his plurality of just the first choice votes, where he had a slim 2,000 vote lead over Democratic challenger Jared Golden. He clearly seemed to think that the 23,000 second and third choice votes would go against him.

But earlier this morning, the federal judge overseeing the case refused to halt the counting and declare Poliquin the winner. Poliquin’s fears have since been realized because Golden has now been declared the winner.

Democrat Jared Golden was declared the winner of Maine’s 2nd Congressional District race on Thursday following a historic tabulation of ballots using ranked-choice voting.

Golden, a Marine Corps veteran and state lawmaker from Lewiston, began the day roughly 2,000 votes behind incumbent Republican Rep. Bruce Poliquin. But Golden surged past Poliquin by slightly less than 3,000 votes after the ranked-choice votes of two independents in the race were redistributed Thursday afternoon.

Of the second-choice votes redistributed Thursday, Golden received 10,232 while 4,695 went to Poliquin. More than 8,000 of the ballots cast for independents did not designate a second choice.

In his ruling US District Court judge Lance Walker emphasized the fact that Maine voters had twice endorsed ranked choice voting. Poliquin’s case against RCV will be heard next month. This is the first federal election run under the RCV system but there are many state and local races that use this system. Since the US constitution gives states broad leeway in how to conduct elections, I doubt that this lawsuit will succeed.

With Poliquin’s ouster, there is not a single Republican left in the entire New England region. Currently the House of Representatives stands at 230-198, a gain of 35 seats for the Democrats with seven races still not decided.


  1. Reginald Selkirk says

    Poliquin sues to stop ranked-choice count, saying process could be illegal (Nov 13)

    Poliquin’s lawsuit claims the use of ranked-choice voting violates the U.S. Constitution because the document “sets a plurality vote as the qualification for election” to Congress. However, the U.S. Constitution does not mention plurality or ranked-choice voting, and several constitutional scholars said Tuesday that the lawsuit is not likely to prevent the state from moving forward with the run-off…
    Poliquin repeatedly declared himself the winner on election night, “fair and square” – an argument central to the lawsuit.

    “Instead of respecting this important constitutional principle, the RCV Act directly contravenes it by denying individuals who obtained the highest number of votes after the first round of balloting – in this case, Bruce Poliquin – from being declared the winner of the general election,” the complaint says. Poliquin is joined in the lawsuit by three registered voters from the 2nd District, including Veazie attorney and Penobscot County Republican Committee chairman Brett Baber…

    When you say something is “unconstitutional” you should be able to point out which article or amendment of the constitution it violates. I don’t see that anywhere in the complaint.
    Article I seems most relevant, and is lacking in details. link

    Section 2: 1: The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen every second Year by the People of the several States, and the Electors in each State shall have the Qualifications requisite for Electors of the most numerous Branch of the State Legislature…
    Section 4: 1: The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Places of chusing Senators.

    Nothing specific in the constitution appears to be violated by a state’s implementation of ranked-chioce.
    It says Congress can make laws regulating state federal elections, but the complaint doesn’t point out any such law that is in effect and is being violated. And if that were the case, you could say that RCV was in violation of that law and therefore illegal, but you would not be able to say that it is unconstitutional.

    More people should read the constitution, it’s really not that long.

  2. says

    BTW, the reason this only applies to Federal offices is that for state offices, the Maine Constitution specifically says that all that is needed for the state offices is a plurality.

    But as Reginald Selkirk pointed out, the US Constitution says this is under each State’s control, which is why we see that some states require a plurality and others require a run-off if there is no majority. With that sort of variation, it’s hard to see how RCV is wildly different. It is, after all, more-or-less, just an instant run-off.

  3. lanir says

    It’s interesting to see how he claims it’s unfair only after the election. Suddenly he believes it is more fair to disregard the process he failed under by ignoring that everyone who voted knew that was in place. If he were really concerned with fairness he’d call for a reversal of that specific law AND a new election.

    When you consider the blatantly self-serving nature of the lawsuit plus the near complete lack of any legal basis for it, this looks like another attempt at grandstanding to attack the legitimacy of the vote.

    I’m curious to know when Republicans as a group decided democracy wasn’t good enough for them.

  4. johnson catman says

    lanir @3:

    I’m curious to know when Republicans as a group decided democracy wasn’t good enough for them.

    When their schemes and manipulations like gerrymandering and voter suppression weren’t enough to overcome the will of the people.

  5. rich rutishauser says

    Agreeing with all the comments! This seems to be just another tool for the rethugs like re-working banking laws or labor laws or mining regulations, and on and on in the favor of those who least deserve and/or need it.

  6. Reginald Selkirk says

    RCV should increase voting for “third parties”. You can cast your vote for, say, a Green Party candidate or a Libertarian Party candidate, but specify a Dem or Repub as second choice, which negates the argument that you are “throwing away your vote by not voting for a candidate who can win.”
    Which makes it all the more impressive that the people supported RCV, since it is presumably not strongly supported by the two dominant parties.

  7. lanir says

    I think the two parties do have a clear, logical reason to support the idea. You see, they don’t have control over the third party candidates. And even with RCV it looks like third party candidates aren’t likely to win. The status quo leaves third parties unlikely to win but still very capable of playing kingmaker by siphoning off votes.

    I think RCV would let the two dominant parties feel like they have control of that again.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *