Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Ranked-choice voting flips House seat in Maine

"A victory not just for Democratic challenger Jared Golden, but voters who demand a fair and representative process."

Image Credit: Joel Page/AP

On Thursday, Maine made history after the state used ranked-choice voting to name Democrat Jared Golden victorious over incumbent Bruce Poliquin (R-Maine) in the state’s second congressional district House race. Ranked-choice voting (RCV) was used for the first time in a national race after “a federal judge rejected Poliquin’s lawsuit” in an “attempt to halt the RCV process,” EcoWatch reported.

Golden won 50.53 percent of the vote, while Poliquin’s tabulation was 49.47 percent. THis marked the “twentieth district that Democrats won that had been carried by President Donald Trump in 2016,” Politico reported.

“RCV has determined the next congressman for Maine’s CD-2! A victory not just for Democratic challenger Jared Golden, but voters who demand a fair and representative process,” League of Women Voters of Maine said in a tweet.

RCV allows voters to rank the candidates in order from their favorite to least favorite. Then one of the candidate must garner 50 percent of the “first-choice voters” to win the election.

In Golden and Poliquin’s race, Poliquin received 46 percent of the vote and Golden won 45.9 percent, which prompted election officials to “prepared to distribute two independent candidates’ supporters’ second and third choices until either the Democrat or Republican gained a majority,” EcoWatch reported. Tiffany Bond and William Hoar were the independent candidates who “both encouraged their supporters to rank Golden ahead of Poliquin as their second choice,” helping to push Golden to victory, Politico reported.

Poliquin filed a lawsuit against RCV claiming it was unconstitutional, but a federal judge ruled that “the RCV Act actually encourages First Amendment expression, without discriminating against any given voter.”

“There is a certain degree of irony because the remedy Plaintiffs seek could deprive more than 20,000 voters of what they understood to be a right to be counted with respect to the contest between Representative Poliquin and Mr. Golden,” Judge Lance Walker, said in his opinion. “At oral argument, Plaintiffs emphasized that the First Amendment entitles them to express their support for their candidate. They feel that Maine is giving other voters disproportionate expression…The RCV Act actually encourages First Amendment expression, without discriminating against any given voter. I am not persuaded that the United States Constitution compels the Court to interfere with this most sacred expression of democratic will.”

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