Having thrown nearly every allegation against the wall and seeing none of them stick, Bruce Poliquin announced on Christmas Eve that he was giving up his effort to overturn the results of the Nov. 6 election he lost to now-U.S. Rep.-elect Jared Golden.

In the weeks since Golden emerged as the winner, Poliquin has tried to cast doubt on the results of the first statewide race in the country to use ranked-choice voting. But all the unsubstantiated claims and false alarms could not drown out the simple facts: Golden won the 2nd District congressional race using the rules chosen by Maine voters, and those rules are constitutional.

In fact, the official actions and court decisions since the election have only strengthened the case for ranked-choice voting, as they knocked down each of Poliquin’s overblown charges.

While the two-term congressman said voters found ranked-choice voting “confusing and complicated,” the subsequent recount, helmed by counters and attorneys from both parties, identified few disputed ballots and little evidence of confusion, matching the experience of municipal clerks throughout the district on Election Day.

After Poliquin claimed that “artificial intelligence” and a “black box computer algorithm” shrouded the vote-counting process in mystery, at least two Mainers independently replicated the state’s official results using simple math. Each and every ballot cast in the race was uploaded on the state website for all to see – the process was about as opaque as clean air.

And finally, as Poliquin repeatedly called ranked-choice voting “unconstitutional,” a federal judge – Lance Walker, an appointee of President Trump – said otherwise in a decision that was essentially upheld by a three-judge appeals panel.

In his ruling, Walker offered a civics lesson, explaining that the Constitution allows for innovation regarding how elections are run; otherwise, we wouldn’t have secret ballots, and women wouldn’t be able to vote.

Walker wrote: “Maine’s RCV Act reflects the view of a majority of the voting public in Maine that their interests may be better represented by the candidate who achieves the greatest support among those who cast votes, than by the candidate who is first ‘past the post’ in a plurality election dominated by two major parties.”

In other words, Maine voters wanted federal elections run with ranked-choice voting, and the Constitution doesn’t forbid it, so that’s the way it is. Everything else – including all the allegations pushed by Poliquin – is just noise.

That includes the repeated assertion that because Poliquin received the most votes in the first round – that he got “more votes on Election Day” – he was somehow entitled to the seat.

With this claim, Poliquin is simply undermining democracy and the rule of law for his own gain. But those “Election Day” numbers are essentially meaningless – Poliquin didn’t get the first-round majority needed to win. Besides, who knows how people would have voted if ranked-choice voting hadn’t been in play?

We’ll never know that answer, but we also don’t need it. It’s as meaningless as wondering whether Paul LePage would have won if ranked-choice voting had been used in the governor’s race in 2010.

LePage won that race under the rules in play – rules that everyone knew about and that guided everyone’s vote.

The same can be said for the 2nd District race. The rules governing the Nov. 6 election were fair and constitutional. Under those rules, Jared Golden won. It’s as simple as that.


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