By: Beth McEvoy
Lawyers representing Rep. Bruce Poliquin and other citizens are asking a judge in Federal Court Wednesday for an emergency temporary restraining order to stop the ranked-choice voting process in Augusta for Maine’s 2nd Congressional District election.
Federal Judge Lance Walker said Wednesday he will not make a decision about the temporary restraining order until Thursday but Sec. of State Matt Dunlap said the vote may be decided sometime Wednesday.
Last week Maine’s 2nd Congressional District election between Rep. Poliquin (R) and Jared Golden (D) failed to produce a candidate with a majority and so has become Maine’s first federal race to be determined by ranked-choice voting.
“No state official should have an interest in rushing ahead, possibly in violation of the Constitution, before the Federal Judge has an opportunity rule. Since the judge told us today that he would issue a ruling tomorrow, I think the prudent course would be for the Secretary of State to give due respect to this federal court and wait for the federal judge’s ruling tomorrow and then decide how best to act,” Lee Goldman, who is representing Poliquin, told reporters following the hearing Wednesday.
“We’re hoping they will count all the votes and run the election is the people decided they wanted to be around,” Peter Brann, the attorney representing Jared Golden. [Peter Brann is a Lecturer on Law for the State Attorney General Clinic at Harvard Law School.]
Poliquin claims he had about 2,000 more votes than Golden on election night. But he did not win a majority of the votes, and under the law passed by voters in 2016, the final result will be determined through ranked-choice voting.
On Tuesday, lawyers for Rep. Poliquin filed a lawsuit in federal court to challenge the vote, saying the whole ranked-choice process violates the U.S. Constitution.
“I won the election fair and square,” Poliquin told reporters Tuesday afternoon.