Live

Watch CBSN Live

Maine election officials declare that Democrat wins contested House race

Record turnout energized midterm voters

Maine election officials found that Democrat Jared Golden defeated incumbent Republican Rep. Bruce Poliquin in a tabulation of ranked-choice votes by the state Department of the Secretary of State on Thursday. A federal judge ruled against Poliquin's suit to prevent a ranked-choice runoff from occurring on Thursday morning.

Although Poliquin held a narrow lead over Golden, he did not win the outright majority needed to prevent a runoff. This pushed the tabulation of votes to voters' second or third choices to see which candidate overall gained the most votes. Taking second- and third-choice votes into account, Golden won over 50 percent of the vote.

Maine has approved ranked-choice voting twice via ballot measure. In this system, voters rank candidates in order of preference. If no candidate obtains a majority, then the candidate with the least first-place votes gets eliminated. That candidate's second-place votes are distributed among remaining candidates. The process continues until one candidate gains a majority.

This was the first congressional race in the nation to be decided by ranked-choice tabulation. Golden benefited from the presence of two third-party candidates in the race.

View CBS News In