Nov. 13 (UPI) -- U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin, R-Maine, filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday to try to block rank-choice ballots in his race against his Democratic opponent Jared Golden.
The suit filed against Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap names Poliquin and three registered voters in Maine's 2nd Congressional District as plaintiffs. They are seeking to stop state election officials from conducting the nation's first ranked-choice voting tabulation in a federal race.
Plaintiffs argue in the suit that Maine's "Act to Establish Ranked-Choice Voting," where voters rank candidates in order of preference, is "costly," and "confusing," and raises constitutional challenges, saying it "sets a plurality vote as the qualification for election" to Congress.
Voters approved the act at the ballot box two years ago. It allows voters to spread their votes across three or more candidates by ranking them in order of preference in primary and federal elections.
Poliquin got the most first-choice votes on the midterm election night last week, but he failed to get more than 50 percent, pushing the tabulation to voters' second choices in a ranked-choice runoff expected to happen Wednesday with voting rounds to determine the winner.
Plaintiffs are asking Dunlap's staff to stop processing ballots for the runoff, but as of late Tuesday morning ballot processing was continuing and would not stop unless a court ordered it to, Dunlap said.
Attorneys for Golden also filed a motion Tuesday, saying that the suit filed after the polls closed on Nov. 6, sought to invalidate "the will of 270,000 Maine voters [who] cast their ballots with the understanding that the RCV system was the law of the land."
Unofficial election results show the two-term Republican congressman Poliquin leading Golden, a Marine Corps veteran, by 2,000 votes with each having roughly 46 percent of the vote. Independent candidates Tiffany Bond and William Hoar together received the remaining 8 percent of the vote and their votes will be reallocated in the voting rounds based on who voters ranked in order of preference on their ballots.
In May 2017, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court issued an opinion that found that parts of the new voting system for state legislature and governor are unconstitutional, but noted the state's constitution did not govern primary or federal elections.