Maine voters have reelected Democratic Rep. Jared Golden, NBC News projects.
Golden had led former Rep. Bruce Poliquin, a Republican, in first-place votes, but neither candidate reached a 50% majority. Ranked-choice tabulations, which were delayed by a glitch, left the Democrat in better position when the second-place votes of the 7% who voted for Independent Tiffany Bond were counted.
Ranked-choice tabulations began Monday, and the secretary of state's office originally said the official count would likely be available by Tuesday night. But just as election officials were preparing to upload the results, they discovered an error.
Now, 16,000 ballots will have to be brought from Bangor and Hampden to Augusta for a third day of tabulations on Wednesday.
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Still, NBC News' Decision Desk made the call Tuesday evening, with Golden leading Poliquin 53.1%-46.9%. Also Tuesday evening, NBC News projected Republicans to win control of the House.
"The memory sticks were not successfully acquired by the system. That means we will have to scan those ballots," Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows told News Center Maine.
She said it isn't clear at this point what caused the error, as they are still investigation. But it might have been a programming error.
Golden received 48% of the vote prior to the ranked choice tabulation, and declared victory last week.
"I am deeply honored that the people of Maine’s Second District have chosen me to represent them in Washington for another two-year term," Golden said on Thursday in Lewiston. "Although Bruce Poliquin may not be willing to concede, at this point the final result is undeniably clear. The few precincts that remain cannot meaningfully alter the position of this race. In an instant runoff against Bruce Poliquin, we are confident that our lead will hold or even extend by a comfortable margin."
Ben Trundy, campaign manager for the Poliquin team, said that Poliquin losing the initial vote was not how the campaign hoped the results would be, but he stopped short of conceding the race. Poliquin received 44% of the vote.
“The results are what they are. We wished it would have been different, but this is the process we have, so we’re just here observing, seeing everything through the campaign,” Trundy said. “Clearly that was not what it was, but those are the unknowns. I think we’re still doing the math on it. Could we have done things differently? Sure.”
Poliquin held the seat from 2014 to 2018. Golden used the ranked round to unseat him in 2018.
The national Republican Party focused heavily on flipping the district, where former President Donald Trump maintains strong support. Golden had to contend with both Poliquin and independent candidate Tiffany Bond in a race that both included ranked-choice voting and was a rematch of three candidates from 2018.