Debate over RCV continued in federal courtroom in Bangor

BANGOR, Maine (WABI) - Constitutional or not.

The debate over ranked-choice voting continued Wednesday in a federal courtroom in Bangor.

The judge says he'll rule by next week on Republican Bruce Poliquin's lawsuit against ranked-choice.

The judge heard arguments from Poliquin's legal counsel about the constitutionality of that voting process.

He heard counterarguments from counsel representing Secretary of State Matt Dunlap, Congressman-elect Jared Golden, and Independent Candidate Tiffany Bond.

Poliquin had the most first-round votes but didn't get a majority, so it went to ranked-choice, which Golden won.

Poliquin is suing to be declared the winner, or to have a new election.

"We don't think that's very likely. I think the law is so clear about this and the judge's first decision was so clear that we're confident in the outcome," said Golden's attorney, James Kilbreth.

"I know that Congressman Poliquin wants to be sure that the people of Maine's votes were respected,no voters were disenfranchised and that a constitutional election decides the result of this election," said Poliquin's attorney, Lee Goodman.

The court heard testimony from a University of Maryland political science professor called by Poliquin's attorney about how ranked-choice voting is confusing for voters.

Opposing counsel said the testimony was baseless and unhelpful.

"He hadn't talked to a single Maine voter. He hadn't analyzed any previous elections. And, he just speculated that people were, I mean, it was really kind of demeaning towards Maine voters, saying, 'well, they're just guessing,' when the ballot clearly says who's your first choice, who's your second choice," said Kilbreth.

"There's no indication that they were uninformed. More money was spent in this election than any other congressional election, in terms of adds. The thought that someone, unless they've lived under a rock, didn't know what was going on in this election is just preposterous," said another member of Golden's legal counsel, Peter Brann.

"They were forced by a ballot to guess at who would be standing in a runoff election. And, in a vacuum, they were forced to guess at that and over 8,000 voters guessed wrong and therefore, they were disenfranchised from the election," said Goodman.

"The case against ranked-choice voting is its complexity. And, I'm not insulting Maine voters, at all. I think there are plenty of Maine voters who correctly anticipated that Poliquin and Golden would the candidates who were still standing after the first round. But, there are always voters who are not in that position. Who are not as knowledgeable," said James Gimpel, the professor who testified Wednesday.

Poliquin has also requested the state conduct a recount.

That process will start Thursday and is expected to take about a month.