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Maine Secretary of State confident in ranked-choice voting after historic race

Maine’s District 2 congressional race was the first time a federal race was decided with ranked-choice voting, and it took six days, with the nation watching. (WGME)

AUGUSTA (WGME) – Maine’s District 2 congressional race was the first time a federal race was decided with ranked-choice voting, and it took six days, with the nation watching.

Secretary of State Matt Dunlap says the process was long to assure accuracy, and he's confident the system worked as intended.

The winner was Jared Golden, with 139,231 votes to Bruce Poliquin's 136,326 votes in the final round, a margin of 2,905 votes.

Elections official announced the results the same day a federal judge rejected Poliquin's request for an emergency injunction to stop ballot counting, but Representative Poliquin is not conceding defeat.

Alongside a court challenge, he could call for a recount.

"But when you're talking about a 3,000-vote margin, as a margin in our work, with the accuracy of the counting that's been done," Dunlap said. ",,,a margin like that is trying to swim across the Atlantic Ocean: it's a very difficult thing to turn around."

Secretary of State Matt Dunlap says if Congressman Poliquin requests a recount, his office will do the work, but the margin of error and the margin of votes doesn't bode well for a reversal in Poliquin's favor.

The ranked-choice voting system takes voters second- and third-choice votes and transfers them to candidates if neither of the top two reach 50 percent.

The League of Women Voters has been monitoring the process and says the system is valid and trustworthy.

"I think voters should have a lot of trust in the ranked-choice system,” Executive Director Anna Kellar said. “It's been approved by Maine voters twice; it's stood up in court, both in Maine multiple times and around the country, and it allows people to have their voices really counted."

Congressman Poliquin's campaign will be able to request a recount within the next five days.

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