Maine to hold ranked-choice runoff election for House seat

Politics

FILE – Voting machines are set up and ready for use on Oct. 15, 2020, in New Orleans. On Nov. 8, 2022, Louisiana voters go to the polls, just like in states across the country. Only they’ll technically be voting in a primary election that includes candidates from all corners. Their votes may determine which candidates will occupy offices at all levels of the state’s government, or which candidates go on to a runoff. (Max Becherer/The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate via AP, File)

(NewsNation) — Maine’s 2nd Congressional District is headed for a ranked-choice runoff after neither candidate secured 50% of the votes needed.

Incumbent Democratic Rep. Jared Golden led his Republican challenger Rep. Bruce Poliquin with 48.2% of the total vote, just shy of carrying the race. The runoff will be determined by the 6% of votes won by independent Tiffany Bond. This will be Maine’s second ranked-choice runoff in four years, likely falling in favor of the Democratic incumbent. 

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Ranked-choice voting requires that a candidate win at least 50% of the vote in order to be declared the outright winner. If neither candidate manages this, votes cast for the third candidate are eliminated in order to count the second-choice preferences on those ballots.

“This voting system focuses on Republican versus Democrat, and more on which candidate you want elected,” said NewsNation’s Dan Abrams, discussing Alaska’s successful special election.

Alaska was the only other state to use this voting system in the 2022 primaries in its race for the congressional seat. The former Republican Gov. Sarah Palin was locked in a tight race with fellow GOP candidate Nick Begich and Democrat Mary Peltola. This was Alaska’s first ever ranked-choice runoff after being approved by voters in 2020 via a ballot measure.

Though only Maine and Alaska used ranked-choice voting for the federal primaries, the system is becoming increasingly popular in the push to reduce partisanship. Several states passed motions to implement ranked-choice voting in local elections, and several included similar motions on ballots this November. Supporters have deemed it more fair than the binary system, giving voters an opportunity to rank their choices.

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