Election officials work behind Secretary of State Shenna Bellows as she talks to reporters Wednesday at the Maine Congressional District 2 ranked-choice voting tabulation in Augusta. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

After three days of counting ballots from several hundred Maine municipalities, state elections officials determined Wednesday that U.S. Rep. Jared Golden won reelection during last week’s ranked-choice voting.

Among the 321,644 votes in the race, the two-term Lewiston Democrat received 53% of the total, while Republican challenger Bruce Poliquin got 47%, according to Secretary of State Shenna Bellows.

U.S. Rep. Jared Golden of Lewiston speaks last week at Democratic headquarters in Lewiston. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal file

Golden, who had already claimed victory last week based on preliminary figures, issued a statement after the count in which he thanked Bellow’s office and the Maine State Police for doing their duty “with professionalism and integrity.”

“I am deeply honored that the people of Maine’s Second District have chosen me to represent them in Washington for another two-year term,” Golden said. “I am already back to work at my office in Congress, continuing to help deliver for my constituents and provide thoughtful, independent leadership for the people of our state.”

Poliquin, who vowed to abide by the results, could not be reached.

The final tally Wednesday evening included the second choices of voters who initially picked independent Tiffany Bond or wrote in somebody and then opted to choose an alternative pick for the next round of counting.


Golden wound up with 165,136 votes and Poliquin 146,142 votes in the final round, after the 21,655 votes for Bond were divvied up among the second choices of her voters.

It is not the first time Golden has won a ranked-choice race in Maine, but last time around, it was not as clear who would wind up on top.

In 2018, in the first federal ranked-choice election, Golden trailed after the first round, but came out the winner to unseat Poliquin after the votes of the two independents in the contest were reallocated in the second round.

In this year’s first round of voting, Golden collected 153,074 votes, or 48%, to Poliquin’s 141,260 votes, or 45%, and Bond’s 21,655 votes, or 7%.

Since none of the three garnered a majority, the candidate with the least votes, Bond, was dropped from contention and her ballots were reallocated to whichever alternative voters had selected as their number two pick. The ballots where somebody wrote in a name in the first round were also reallocated.

To figure it all out, elections officials in Augusta rounded up all the paper ballots from the many small communities that did not possess an electronic tabulator, a machine that counts ballots, as well as the memory sticks from towns that used tabulators.


Since none of the machines is connected to the internet, all the necessary ballots and memory sticks had to be brought to Augusta, where they have been under guard.

Assistant Director of Elections Heidi Peckham, left, runs the tabulation as Secretary of State Shenna Bellows, background, reads results to viewers of a Facebook livestream after the Maine 2nd Congressional District ranked-choice voting results were posted Wednesday in Augusta. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

The counting went generally smoothly, although ballots had to be retrieved from a few municipalities, including Bangor, to figure out discrepancies or deal with broken memory sticks.

“Sometimes, technology fails,” Bellows said.

Bellows compared counting and verifying each ballot to “an accounting or an auditing process.”

“It’s not glamorous,” she said, but it is crucial to the democratic process.

At every step, representatives of the Golden and Poliquin campaigns examined details and agreed on what the election overseers were doing.


Bellows said the campaign officials “really modeled” what she called “the civility and respect” that Maine seeks in its elections.

The 2nd Congressional District, one of the most rural in the nation and the largest east of the Mississippi River, leans Republican.

Last week, its voters favored GOP gubernatorial candidate Paul LePage, and two years ago, they backed the reelection bid of Donald Trump, the Republican president who this week announced his intention to seek the presidency once again.

Golden, though, won the district by bigger margins than LePage or Trump.

Golden in 2018 trailed Poliquin by 2,071 votes at the end of the first round. In the end, he won by more than 3,500 votes because so many independents picked him over Poliquin in the second round.

This year, there were 6,978 ballots in the 2nd District where voters did not make any choice for a congressional candidate or messed it up somehow, officials said. Add those in and 321,644 ballots cast overall.

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