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Congressman seeks new election if outcome is not overturned

The Associated Press
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FILE - This combination of file photos show U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin in 2017, left, and state Rep. Jared Golden in 2018, right, in Maine. Golden challenged Poliquin for the 2nd District Congressional seat in the November 2018 general election. Golden, who finished behind Republican U.S. Rep. Poliquin in the first round of balloting in Maine's new voting system, came from behind to flip the U.S. House seat representing one of two congressional districts in the state, election officials said Thursday, Nov 15, 2018. (AP Photos/Robert F. Bukaty, File)

PORTLAND, Maine — Republican U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin is asking a federal judge to order a new election if he declines to invalidate Maine’s new voting system and declare Poliquin the winner.

Judge Lance Walker declined to stop the ballot-counting process in which Democrat Jared Golden was declared the winner in the nation’s first ranked-balloting in a congressional election.

But Poliquin’s lawsuit is still alive. Poliquin wants the Trump-appointed judge to declare the system unconstitutional.

Poliquin’s request for the judge to either declare him the winner or order a second election was made late Tuesday, a day after Poliquin formally requested a recount that’s expected to take a month.

The updated court filing late Tuesday was made ahead of a hearing next week on ranked-choice voting in federal court in Bangor.

The voting system, approved in 2016, lets voters rank all candidates on the ballot. Last-place finishers are eliminated and votes reassigned if no candidate emerges as a majority winner in the first round of tallies.

In this case, additional voting tabulations were necessary because Poliquin and Golden both collected 46 percent of first-place votes, meaning neither candidate collected a majority of the vote.

Poliquin won the first round by a margin of about 2,000 votes, but the lead evaporated after additional tabulations.

Golden emerged victorious by about 3,500 votes after two trailing candidates were eliminated and their supporters’ second-choices were reassigned in a computer-assisted process in Augusta.

For now, the ranked-choice voting system is used only in federal races and in statewide primary elections in Maine.

It cannot be used in the governor’s race or legislative races because of concerns it runs afoul of the Maine Constitution.

Democratic Gov.-elect Janet Mills said she intends to press for an amendment to the Maine Constitution so the system can be used in all elections. That would require legislative approval and another statewide vote.

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