ELLSWORTH — While Republican Rep. Bruce Poliquin’s legal challenge to the results of the Nov. 6 election for Maine’s 2nd Congressional District has gone to a federal appeals court, Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap has taken action that would allow Democratic Rep.-elect Jared Golden to be sworn in to the U.S. House of Representatives in January.
On Tuesday, Dunlap sent a Certificate of Election to Karen L. Hass, the clerk of the U.S. House Representatives, finalizing the results of the Nov. 6 election.
Poliquin ultimately lost that election to Golden following the use of ranked choice voting to tabulate the ballots.
Dunlap’s letter came on the same day that lawyers for Poliquin filed a request with the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to grant an injunction to prevent any certification of the election results while litigation was still pending.
Representatives cannot be seated without state certification of the results of an election. While these certificates are usually signed by a state’s governor, in this instance Gov. Paul LePage has refused to do so, citing Poliquin’s ongoing litigation. LePage, however, will be succeeded by Democratic Gov.-elect Janet Mills on Jan. 2, one day before U.S. House representatives will be sworn in.
Poliquin’s previous legal efforts have, thus far, proved unsuccessful. His lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of ranked choice voting and asking for a new election to be held was rejected by U.S. District Court Judge Lance Walker on Dec. 13. Barring a successful appeal, Poliquin’s remaining legal option will be to file a formal complaint with the House’s Committee on House Administration. Additionally, a House member could object to Golden’s being sworn in, in which case the entire House would vote on the issue or refer it to the Committee on House Administration. With Democrats holding a majority on the committee and in the House as a whole, both remain unlikely sources of salvation for Poliquin.