AUGUSTA, ME — Gov. Paul LePage certified the election results for Maine’s 2nd Congressional District after a recount and legal battle dragged out the final result in the race for almost two months, cementing a Democratic victory.
But, LePage — a Republican firebrand — made one last jab at the drawn-out process when certifying the election, writing the words “stolen election” next to his signature.
November’s congressional election in Maine marked the first time in US history the ranked-choice voting system determined the outcome of a congressional race. The new state law mandates ranked-choice tabulation be applied in any federal race in which no candidate receives a majority of the vote.
Democratic Rep-elect Jared Golden was projected by CNN as the winner of the election in Maine’s second district with 50.6% of the vote, and his opponent, Rep. Bruce Poliquin, received 49.4% of the vote.
Though Poliquin earned more first-choice votes on election day, neither of the two won a majority of votes. Therefore, the election was thrown to later rounds where voters ranked just the two candidates, and the two independent candidates were removed from the ballot. Golden was found to be the largest vote-getter in the race.
When the outcome of the election became clear, Poliquin, a two-term congressman, requested a recount citing confusion based upon the district’s ranking system and the lack of transparency with the computer software used in voting. He also filed a lawsuit against Maine’s Secretary of State Matt Dunlap in federal court in Bangor, Maine, challenging the constitutionality of the process.
“We have heard from countless Maine voters who were confused and even frightened their votes did not count due to computer-engineered rank voting,” said Brendan Conley, a spokesman for the Poliquin campaign, in November.
Poliquin ultimately withdrew his request for a recount after 50% of the ballots had been counted and his legal challenge was unsuccessful, despite his legal team filing an emergency motion asking the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston to prevent Maine from certifying the election.
LePage posted on Twitter Friday that he signed the certification of Golden’s victory — 51 days after election day. Golden will join the 116th Congress in January.
“Not only are the Governor’s comments wrong, this is yet another attempt by the Maine GOP to undermine the will of Mainers, who twice voted to approve RCV,” Golden said in a statement released Friday. “Maine people are tired of this kind of poor leadership — which is why they voted for sweeping change in November.”