The Latest: Judge to rule quickly on Maine voting challenge

BANGOR, Maine (AP) — The Latest on a legal challenge of Maine’s ranked balloting (all times local):

12 p.m.

A federal judge who’s weighing a request to halt tabulations under Maine’s new voting system says he’ll rule on the matter quickly, as soon as Thursday.

U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin and three GOP activists are challenging the ranked voting system that was used for the first time last week in U.S. House and Senate races in Maine. Judge Lance Walker heard arguments Wednesday in federal court in Bangor.

The system lets voters rank candidates and provides for extra tabulations to ensure a majority winner. State election officials are preparing to run tabulations for a second voting round in the race between Poliquin and Democrat Jared Golden. Secretary of State Matt Dunlap says counting could be completed by the end of the day Wednesday.

Poliquin said he has a duty to challenge the new system. It was approved by voters in 2016.

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9:20 a.m.

A judge is hearing arguments aimed at stopping Maine’s ranked-balloting system, even as votes are being scanned in preparation for declaration of a winner in a congressional race.

Republican U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin and three activists sued Tuesday seeking to overturn Maine’s new voting system. Judge Lance Walker is hearing arguments Wednesday morning in U.S. District Court in Bangor.

The first round of voting on Election Day ended with Poliquin and Democrat Jared Golden both collecting about 46 percent of the vote in Maine’s 2nd Congressional District.

Poliquin held a slim edge and declared himself the “fair and square” winner.

But the ranked-choice system adopted by Maine voters in 2016 requires additional voting rounds in which last-place candidates are eliminated and votes reallocated until there is a majority winner.

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12:10 a.m.

The counting continues in the first U.S. House race to be determined by a ranked balloting system, despite a lawsuit designed to stop it.

Republican U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin joined the lawsuit Tuesday seeking to overturn Maine’s new voting system. He’s in a tight race with Democratic state Rep. Jared Golden, who has a chance to win the seat based on second-choice ballots.

The secretary of state declined a request to stop the election process without a court order, and has said his office will continue to process ballots.

The first round of voting on Election Day ended with Poliquin and Golden both collecting about 46 percent of the vote in Maine’s 2nd Congressional District. Poliquin held a slim edge, and declared himself the “fair and square” winner Tuesday.