Election worker Gregg Jones inspects a slightly damaged ballot that would not go through a voting machine Monday during the processing of absentee ballots at City Hall in Portland. Credit: Robert F. Bukaty / AP

Good morning in Augusta. They are still counting presidential votes in Pennsylvania, Georgia, North Carolina and Nevada. Here’s your soundtrack.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I think that the election has heightened a lot of feelings and brought out honestly the worst in people,” Belfast parent Traci Mailloux said after the local school board chair resigned after making negative comments about supporters of President Donald Trump.

What we’re watching today

After some worry and a long legal fight, ranked-choice voting made no difference in the outcomes of Maine elections. In the two races on Maine’s ballot to use the voting method, U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican, emerged with a clear majority of votes. A polarized Maine also handed outright majorities to Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden statewide and in the 1st Congressional District and to Trump in the 2nd District.

It came after Collins, who took the victory after trailing House Speaker Sara Gideon, D-Freeport, in polls all year, joined others in her party to criticize the voting method, which was seen as favoring Gideon because progressive candidate Lisa Savage had the biggest share of independent support. By the end, the senator did not have to worry about it.

State Republicans put hundreds of thousands of dollars behind a people’s veto effort to repeal the 2019 law extending the method to presidential elections that was eventually disqualified from the ballot over signature issues. But the first-in-the-nation experiment ended with a yawn as third-party hopefuls barely registered here with a collective 3 percent of votes.

Voters elsewhere were wary of the method. While Maine has supported ranked-choice voting twice at the ballot box, liberal Massachusetts shied away from adopting it on Tuesday after Republican Gov. Charlie Baker campaigned against it. In Alaska, a wider-ranging referendum to create a single primary election for each public office while sending the top four vote-getters to a general election decided by ranked choice also failed.

The Maine politics top 3

— “Susan Collins defied the polls. Here’s what they may have gotten wrong,” Michael Shepherd and Jessica Piper, Bangor Daily News: “Theories about the survey misses revolved around late movement of undecided voters and underestimates about the share of ticket-splitting voters in Maine, which was won by both Biden and Collins by nine-point margins statewide.”

— “Maine’s most interesting local races of 2020 were all over the map,” Michael Shepherd and Jessica Piper, BDN: “Democratic and Republican splits played out in uneven ways in parts of the increasingly divided state. It led to fractured local elections won by fresh faces and marked by big changes in cities and more rural areas. Here are some of the state’s most interesting ones.”

Two of Maine’s largest cities had ballot-counting issues in Tuesday’s election, but they are not expected to change outcomes. Portland revised its totals for six progressive referendums on Wednesday after finding discrepancies in the vote tallies. They made the margin of victory wider for the five that passed. In Bangor, the city failed to count 1,500 votes stored on a memory stick that poll workers errantly set aside without tabulating. Democrats led comfortably in down-ticket legislative races in the city.

— “‘Staggering’ criminal case backlog means Maine courts won’t take up civil matters until 2021,” Judy Harrison, BDN: “The delay in holding civil trials could help the court system chip away at the criminal case backlog that has grown 240 percent in less than a year. But some lawyers say delaying civil cases because they’re not considered emergency matters risks depriving Maine people of a legal forum for settling disputes.”

Today’s Daily Brief was written by Michael Shepherd and Caitlin Andrews. If you’re reading this on the BDN’s website or were forwarded it, email clumm@bangordailynews.com (we’re setting up a new subscriber page soon) to subscribe to it via email.

To reach us, do not reply directly to this newsletter, but contact the political team at mshepherd@bangordailynews.com, candrews@bangordailynews.com or jpiper@bangordailynews.com.

Michael Shepherd joined the Bangor Daily News in 2015 after time at the Kennebec Journal. He lives in Augusta, graduated from the University of Maine in 2012 and has a master's degree from the University...