Two competitive primary races for open seats in the Maine House of Representatives could be decided by ranked choice voting next week.

The Democratic primaries in House District 118, which includes part of Portland, and District 123, which includes part of Cape Elizabeth, are the only three-way races in Tuesday’s elections in which voters will use the ranked choice voting system.

In Portland, former state Rep. Herb Adams, outgoing state Sen. Ben Chipman and former Portland school board member Yusuf Yusuf are seeking the Democratic nomination. In Cape Elizabeth, the primary features former state senator and representative Cynthia Dill, former state Rep. Kimberly Monaghan and political newcomer Michelle Boyer.

Voters will be able to rank their first, second and third choices in those races. If no candidate gets more than 50% of the first choice votes, the race will proceed to a ranked choice runoff under the supervision of the Maine secretary of state. In that case, the winner would not be declared until later next week.

Of course, it’s also possible that one candidate surpasses the 50% threshold on election night and is declared the winner.

“It’s only if none of the candidates in the three-way race receive at least 50% that it moves to ranked choice voting,” said Secretary of State Shenna Bellows.


Municipal election officials will announce the results of only the first choice votes Tuesday. If the race moves to a ranked choice runoff, Bellows said her office will work with law enforcement to secure the ballots and data memory sticks from voting machines and bring them to Augusta to conduct the ranked choice tabulation.

During the runoff process, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated. Voters who chose the eliminated candidate would have their ballots added to the totals of their second-ranked candidates, and the results would be re-tabulated to determine which of the remaining candidates tops 50%.

Bellows said it would likely take two to three days after the election to know the final results. Municipalities have two days to verify and report their election results to the state.

Ranked choice voting was approved by Maine voters in 2016 and has been used in state primaries and federal elections in Maine since 2018, although it only comes into play if three or more candidates are running for an office.

The process will not be used for State House races in the November general election because the Maine Supreme Judicial Court issued an opinion in 2017 saying ranked choice voting is in conflict with language in the Maine Constitution that calls for legislative candidates and the governor to be elected by a plurality, even if the total is less than a clear majority.

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