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Recount begins in Maine's Second District

Congressman Bruce Poliquin requested the recount after losing to Jared Golden, even as Poliquin challenges ranked-choice voting in federal court. (WGME)

AUGUSTA (WGME) – The hand recount started Thursday in Maine's Second District Congressional race.

Congressman Bruce Poliquin requested the recount after losing to Jared Golden, even as Poliquin challenges ranked-choice voting in federal court.

If the recount overturns the margin of 3,500 votes that declared Jared Golden the winner, then elections officials say Poliquin gets back his deposit of $5,000.

But, for everything else, from state troopers' overtime escorting the ballots, to ballot counters' lunches, Poliquin is paying an undetermined amount of money in this recount.

The recount is the latest move by Congressman Poliquin, who has not conceded the race to Jared Golden.

"This will be an important sort of check and to see how the ranked-choice tabulation, that was done by a computer, bears out when the actual votes are counted by real humans," Poliquin attorney Josh Tardy said.

Golden's attorney says the recount delays authentication of Golden as the winner, but the recount will help ensure confidence in the elections process.

"If a losing candidate wants to have a recount I'm happy to have this go forward,” Golden attorney Ben Grant said. “I think the result's not going to change.

The Secretary of State says volunteers from both campaigns conduct the actual physical recount.

The State Elections Office and lawyers from Poliquin and Golden watch the counters.

They say they've spotted a handful of contested ballots that show stray marks across those ballots.

Those will be set aside until the end.

"That's when the attorneys come in,” Secretary of State Matt Dunlap said. “We have very well thought out protocols in the law about what constitutes voter intent. So, it's very difficult to dismiss a ballot because of a stray mark or something like that."

Elections officials are anticipating a crush of onlookers.

The recount could take up to four weeks.

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