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Lone New England Republican in Congress Leads, But Race Will Be Decided By Ranked-Choice Tiebreaker

Republican U.S. Representative Bruce Poliquin won a narrow plurality of votes in his re-election bid in the Second Congressional District in Maine, but because he didn’t get a majority of votes he could still lose in an unusual tiebreaker.

Voters who picked two independent candidates who got small percentages of the vote (5.7 percent and 2.4 percent, respectively) will decide between the two major-party candidates, through ranked choice.

Under a 2016 Maine law, voters are asked not only to vote for a candidate but also to rank the other candidates on the ballot, in order of preference. If no candidate wins at least 50 percent plus one vote in the initial tally, then ranked-choice decides the outcome.

Here’s how it works:

The candidate on the ballot who got the least amount of votes is eliminated, and the second-choice picks from those ballots are awarded to the remaining candidates. If no one gets an outright majority in the new tabulation, the process is repeated, with the next-lowest vote getter being eliminated and that candidate’s second-place votes being distributed among the remaining candidates.

Ballots from all over the state are being sent to the Maine capital Augusta for tabulation, which is expected to begin Friday, November 9, according to the Bangor Daily News.

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