Poliquin asks judge to decide constitutionality of ranked-choice voting by Dec. 14

Gabor Degre, Special to The County
6 years ago

U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin’s lawyers have asked the federal judge considering whether Maine’s ranked-choice system violates the U.S. Constitution to make a decision before the Dec. 14 deadline when election results must arrive at the U.S. House of Representatives.

Lee Goodman, the Washington, D.C., attorney heading up Poliquin’s legal team, filed a motion late Thursday asking U.S. District Judge Lance Walker to set the following deadlines: 5 p.m. Nov. 28 for all briefs opposing Poliquin’s motion for summary judgement to be filed; 5 p.m. Dec. 2 for Poliquin’s reply to those briefs; and Dec. 3, 4 or 5 for the judge to hold a hearing on the summary judgement motion, which had not been filed as of 9:30 a.m. Friday.

Walker was expected to rule Friday on the scheduling motion. Federal courthouses in Portland and Bangor remained open despite the snowstorm.

Following the ranked-choice tabulation, Democrat Jared Golden won the election in Maine’s 2nd Congressional District with 50.53 percent of the vote to Republican Poliquin’s 49.47 percent. Secretary of State Matt Dunlap announced the final count about 12:30 p.m Thursday, two hours after Walker denied Poliquin’s motion to stop the tabulation of ballots.

Poliquin’s 25-page complaint, filed Tuesday in federal court in Bangor, argued that ranked-choice voting violates the U.S. Constitution’s guarantees to due process and equal protection and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. No court has specifically addressed those arguments, but last year, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court said the method ran afoul of the Maine Constitution as it pertained to statewide general elections, though it cleared the way for ranked-choice voting in the June primaries and didn’t address the method’s use in federal elections.

Walker allowed the underlying lawsuit to go forward in his 16-page rulingdenying Poliquin’s motion to stop the ballot count. It touched on some of Poliquin’s constitutional objections to ranked-choice voting but did not directly address whether the voting method violates the U.S. Constitution.

This article originally appeared on www.bangordailynews.com.