AUGUSTA, Maine — Couriers will begin delivering ballots to Maine’s state capital on Thursday as residents await the results of the nation’s biggest test of ranked-choice voting.
A private courier service will start delivering hands ballots and memory sticks to a secure site in Augusta. Vote counting will begin on Friday and continue next week.
The state’s top election officials said they may release unofficial election results sometime next week.
Ranked-choice voting works like this: Voters rank candidates from first to last on their ballots. A candidate who collects a majority of the vote wins. If there is no majority, then the last-place candidate will be eliminated and votes reallocated. The process is repeated until there is a majority winner.
The voting system is used in 11 local jurisdictions and was used for the first time in a U.S. statewide primary on Tuesday.
Residents voted to retain the voting system, nullifying a legislative delay and allowing it to be used in November’s federal elections in Maine.
Republican businessman Shawn Moody was a majority winner. But no one came close to getting an outright majority to claim victory in the seven-candidate Democratic gubernatorial primary.
In Maine’s 2nd Congressional District, Marine Corp veteran and state lawmaker Jared Golden had the most first-place votes in Maine’s Democratic congressional primary.
At present, ranked-choice voting cannot be used in state general elections because of state constitutional concerns.
Supporters face stiff Republican opposition with plans to push a constitutional amendment that would allow the system to be used in the governors’ race, where nine out of the last 11 elections failed to produce a majority winner.
By MARINA VILLENEUVE, By Associated Press