PORTLAND (NEWS CENTER Maine)-- On Tuesday morning, Executive Director of the Maine GOP Jason Savage released a statement casting doubt on the Ranked Choice Voting process that ultimately decided Congressman-elect Democrat Jared Golden to be the winner of the race to represent Maine's Second Congressional District over incumbent Congressman Bruce Poliquin, a Republican.
“Trust in this system is shaken from start to finish, and now we are told that Secretary of State Dunlap simply ‘found’ more votes and added them to the totals to expand Jared Golden’s lead, but that he didn’t bother telling anyone until this recount deadline was upon us,” said Jason Savage, executive director of the Maine GOP.
“This addition to the vote count appears to us to have been done under the cover of darkness with no notification of any of the processes that were taking place and no public observers.”
Not only is the public denied the ability to review the algorithm that powers the RCV software, but now the vote total changes when nobody is looking. So much for the RCV process being transparent to the public.
“This is all the more reason for the recount and lawsuit. Nobody should be able to just add to vote totals under the cover of darkness without proper notification and transparency measures. Those results are sacred. They should not be treated like a seventh grade homework assignment,” concluded Mr. Savage.
Following the election on November 6th, neither candidate won 50 percent of the vote, meaning the result would be decided by ranked choice. During that week long process leading up to the final tabulation, Poliquin filed a lawsuit against the Maine Secretary of State in Federal Court, questioning the constitutionality of Ranked Choice Voting. When he made this announcement to the media, the congressman claimed he won the election "fair and square" because he held a roughly 2,000 vote lead over Golden. That arguments of that lawsuit are due to be heard by a judge on December 5th.
When asked about the claims made by Savage, Secretary of State Matt Dunlap said there was an error discovered during the process, but not one that changed the outcome of the election. In a phone call Tuesday morning, Dunlap explained the error was brought to his attention the previous Wednesday and involved the incorrect scanning of several Express Vote ballots- a system that allows voters with disabilities to use a touch screen to vote and then print a paper version of their completed ballot to be cast. Dunlap said his office instructed precincts not to scan these ballots the way they would scan a ballot filled out with pen, but that "half a dozen towns" did so anyway, incorrectly processing those votes.
Dunlap said his office corrected the mistake within the 20 day period allowed following the election before the results are submitted to the governor for certification, and that the results of the Second Congressional District were unchanged. He added the office had the results checked and confirmed by a mathematician following the correction.