BANGOR — Republican Rep. Bruce Poliquin’s effort to seek a new election in Maine’s 2nd District congressional race is an “extraordinary attempt to overturn the results of a fair and free election,” an attorney for U.S. Rep.-elect Jared Golden said in a legal filing late Wednesday.

Peter Brann, the lawyer for the Lewiston Democrat, said Poliquin’s request to overturn the ranked-choice voting results is unlikely to prevail and ought to be rejected.

“Golden won the election fair and square,” Brann, a Lewiston attorney, said in legal papers filed with the federal district court in Bangor. “Poliquin’s sour grapes preliminary injunction is too little, too late, and is outweighed by the injury to the thousands of Maine voters who selected Golden over Poliquin and who would be disenfranchised by Poliquin’s attempt to use the courts to overturn the results of the election.

“Further, the chaos, disruption, and violation of fundamental rights that would result from Poliquin’s attempt to rewrite the rules after the election is anathema to the public interest.”

Poliquin’s lawyers have called for the court to declare the incumbent the winner based solely on first-round results of balloting on Nov. 6, a round narrowly won by the Republican. When the ballots were retabulated under the ranked-choice system, Golden prevailed by more than 3,500 votes out of more than 290,000 cast.

In a ranked-choice election, voters have the option of listing candidates in order of preference on their ballot sheets, although ranking is not required for a ballot to count.


Voters’ second- or third-choice preferences only come into play if no candidate wins a majority on the first tally. In subsequent vote tallies, specialized computer software eliminates candidates from the bottom up and reallocates their supporters’ votes to the candidate they ranked second. That candidate-elimination process continues until one person wins a majority of the remaining vote pool.

Poliquin argues the ranked-choice system is unconstitutional and unfair. He also is seeking a recount that will likely take three or four weeks to complete, said Secretary of State Matt Dunlap.

Phyllis Gardiner, a state lawyer handling the case, said in legal papers that none of Poliquin’s arguments has merit.

Brann said that the court should not allow Poliquin to “change the rules” after it’s over.

James Monteleone of Portland, the lawyer for independent candidate Tiffany Bond, told the court in a separate filing that “before and on Election Day, no legal challenge of Maine’s RCV law was pending in any court. No legal challenge was even threatened.”

“Voters reasonably relied on the fact that the RCV laws that were twice affirmed by Maine’s citizen legislators as the state’s chosen manner of election for its congressional representatives,” he said.

Gardiner said that “granting this motion would disenfranchise over 15,000 voters who ranked the candidates on the expectation that their second- or third-choice vote would be counted if their first choice was defeated in round one.”

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