A version of this article was originally published in The Daily Brief, our Maine politics newsletter. Sign up here for daily news and insight from politics editor Michael Shepherd.
AUGUSTA, Maine — Secretary of State Shenna Bellows spent much of her Tuesday before a computer screen, narrating a live stream of the ranked-choice count for a key Maine congressional race like a news anchor.
By day’s end, she was explaining the arcane reasons why another day was needed. We are expected to get a result in the race between U.S. Rep. Jared Golden and former U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin by Wednesday evening.
The Democratic incumbent is expected to easily clinch a third term because he figures to get an overwhelming share from voters who supported independent Tiffany Bond in the first round. Golden is close to a majority at nearly 48.5 percent of votes.
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The balance of power does not hang on this race, because Republicans already clinched a narrow House majority, according to our national results partners at Decision Desk HQ. But this election is still one of 10 that has not been called by us along with other news agencies that have not developed protocols to call ranked-choice voting races before the final allocations are set.
We thought there would be a result on Tuesday, but snafus kept coming up. Things were delayed an hour when it was discovered that state officials were missing seven ballots from the Waldo County town of Palermo that were not accepted by a tabulator on Election Day. A state police detective went to the town to get all the ballots and they were tabulated in Augusta.
A bigger problem surfaced around 6 p.m., when officials explained that some of the memory sticks containing ballot information in Bangor, Hampden and Anson were not in the format needed to run the ranked-choice reallocation. Police went to get the 17,400 ballots from those communities and they will be processed in Augusta on Wednesday before the count is run.
“You have more than 300 municipalities in CD2 and … the fact we had the failure of two memory sticks is unfortunate,” Bellows told reporters before the problem with Anson was flagged. “It’s really unfortunate this late in the day.”
The count restarted at 9 a.m. on Wednesday and is expected to conclude late in the evening. Watch the live stream here.