Ranked Choice Voting Winners Announced
More than a week after the primary elections, results have finally been announced.
Officials announced Wednesday that Democratic Attorney General Janet Mills is the gubernatorial Democratic primary winner under Maine's new ranked-choice voting method, the nation's biggest test of the system,
Mills had the most first-place votes, and her lead held after additional rounds of tabulations under the system that had voters rank candidates from first to last on the ballot. The winning result was announced eight days after Maine's primary.
Mills will run for the seat being vacated by term-limited Republican Gov. Paul LePage.
Businessman Shawn Moody won his Republican primary with an outright majority, so there were no additional tabulations in that race. Mills will face Moody on a crowded November gubernatorial ballot that includes several independents including entrepreneur Alan Caron, former GOP legislative candidate Ken Capron, state treasurer Terry Hayes and former state lawmaker and mayor John Jenkins.
Additional tabulations were triggered in both races because no one collected a majority of first-round votes. Because of that, additional voting rounds eliminated last-place finishers. Those voters' second-place selections were reallocated to the remaining field.
Ranked-choice voting became a game of mathematical survival once all of the ballots were shipped to Augusta for processing at a secure location. Ballots and memory sticks from hundreds of towns had to be delivered and scanned into several computers over several days.
In the end, Mills won. When asked about what it would mean to be Maine's first female governor, she said she will run on her "merits and qualifications and ability to get stuff done."
Democratic state Rep. Jared Golden, the Assistant House Leader, also won the right to face Republican U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin for Maine's 2nd Congressional District. In the Congressional race, Golden didn't win an outright majority in the first round of voting, but he became the winner by defeating conservationist Lucas St. Clair after additional tabulations under ranked-choice voting.
Several dozen onlookers and reporters crowded a small room in Augusta as Democratic Secretary of State Matt Dunlap watched a laptop computing election results, round by round. "I think people can trust the result," Dunlap said. "Off we go."
Proponents say the voting system eliminates spoiler candidates, moderates harsh rhetoric and ensures a consensus winner. Critics say it's complicated, unfair and potentially unconstitutional.