State still collecting ballots to conduct ranked-choice vote counts

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AUGUSTA – Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap said ranked-choice voting calculations for the Democratic gubernatorial primary will likely happen Tuesday.

“Everything would have to snap into place pretty neatly to be done today,” Dunlap said Monday morning. “We are anticipating really being done tomorrow to be able to run the tabulation.”

As of Friday evening, staff in Dunlap’s office scanned the paper ballots or downloaded voting files for 270 of the 508 towns, cities and voting locations around the state. The team was back at it on Monday morning even as the final shipments of ballots from towns continued to trickle in via courier service.

In Maine’s seven-person Democratic primary for governor, Attorney General Janet Mills of Farmington was leading attorney and veteran Adam Cote of Sanford by roughly 5,500 votes in the unofficial results compiled by the Portland Press Herald and The Associated Press. Betsy Sweet of Hallowell and Mark Eves of North Berwick were trailing far enough behind that, absent a major upset, the votes from their supporters are likely to tip either Mills or Cote over the 50 percent threshold needed to claim the Democratic nomination.

The Democratic primary for Maine’s 2nd Congressional District could also be headed to a ranked-choice tabulation. While Jared Golden of Lewiston was leading that race with more than 49 percent of the vote, he was just shy of the 50 percent needed to avoid a ranked-choice tabulation. Lucas St. Clair of Hampden had received 41 percent of the vote and Craig Olson of Isleboro received 10 percent, according to the unofficial results.

Under the ranked-choice system, voters select candidates in order of preference. If no candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote in the first count, the candidate with the fewest first-choice votes is eliminated. Voters who preferred the eliminated candidate would then have their ballots added to the totals of their second-ranked candidates, and the ballots would be retabulated. The process continues until one candidate has a majority and is declared the winner.

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