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In Maine, Golden Wins Nation's First Ranked-Choice Voting Runoff

State Rep. Jared Golden, D-Lewiston, a candidate for the 2nd District Congressional seat, addresses the Democratic Convention, Friday, May 18, 2018, in Lewiston, Maine. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
State Rep. Jared Golden, D-Lewiston, a candidate for the 2nd District Congressional seat, addresses the Democratic Convention, Friday, May 18, 2018, in Lewiston, Maine. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

Democrat Jared Golden on Thursday became the first candidate to unseat an incumbent from Maine's 2nd Congressional District in over 100 years when he was named the winner of the nation’s first ranked-choice voting runoff for congressional contest.

Golden, who trailed Republican U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin by roughly 2,000 votes heading into the runoff, won in the second round of the runoff by picking up rankings from voters who picked independents Tiffany Bond and Will Hoar first on Election Day, 50.53 percent to 49.47 percent, or about 3,000 votes.

Those rankings, unique to a ranked-choice voting law that Maine voters ratified via ballot initiative two years ago, were enough to push the 36-year-old Golden over the finish line.

However, the margin was close enough that Poliquin could ask for a recount.

The heavily scrutinized count was conducted amid a last-minute legal challenge in federal court by Poliquin and three voters in Maine’s 2nd district. Poliquin’s attorney claimed that Maine’s ranked-choice voting law violated the U.S. Constitution in multiple ways.

However, Poliquin’s request to halt the count by restraining order was denied by U.S. District Court Judge Lance Walker.

Walker held a two-hour hearing on Poliquin’s request Wednesday, just as state election officials were finalizing the process of scanning ballots for Thursday’s final runoff tabulation.

In a statement released after the results were announced, Poliquin said that would continue to pursue his lawsuit.

“It is now officially clear I won the constitutional 'one-person, one-vote' first choice election on Election Day that has been used in Maine for more than one hundred years. We will proceed with our constitutional concerns about the rank vote algorithm,” he said.

Following the announcement, Golden said that he would like to focus on meeting with constituents.

“I’m not going to be a part-time congressman," he said. "I’m going to hold Town Halls, not just fundraisers. And I won’t be calling lobbyists and corporate PACs to 'dial for dollars,' or to trade my votes for their money. I’ll be calling you, the people of Maine — the only people I’m accountable to — to make sure I’ve earned your support.”

He also said he will focus on health care.

"I'm going to do everything I can to protect and expand access to affordable health care," he said. "I won't vote to take coverage away from you or to let insurance companies discriminate against sick Mainers. That's why I will fight tooth and nail to protect Social Security and Medicare so that Mainers who've worked hard and paid into the system can have a secure and stable retirement."

One thing Golden says he will not be voting for is Nancy Pelosi for speaker of the U.S. House. He says he thinks it's time for new leaders in this country.

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