As election workers continue to process ballots in Augusta, the Maine GOP is raising the red flag about ballot security.
The Republican Party posted images to its Facebook page showing ballot boxes without padlocks. A courier service picked up ballot boxes from every municipality in Maine’s Second Congressional District and transported them to a central location in Augusta where the Secretary of State’s office is using ranked choice tabulation. It is the first time RCV will be used to determine a federal race.
“We want to feel like we can trust the results,” Jason Savage, Executive Director of the Maine GOP, said.
On Monday, Secretary of State Matt Dunlap said the absence of padlocks does not mean there was any potential for tampering. He said every box containing ballots had a serialized seal still intact. Each seal has a code that corresponds to its municipality. The device cannot be opened without wire cutters.
“If we had a ballot box show up here that was neither locked nor sealed, I would freak out,” Dunlap said. “This facility is badge protected, we have cameras, so the prospect of something going wrong that no one would find out about is pretty darn narrow.”
The Maine GOP has raised a second concern about election integrity. One of the workers assigned to handling ballots has liked tweets supporting the Democratic candidate and tweets opposing the Republican incumbent. Savage said they would like to see that worker re-assigned.
Dunlap is dismissing the idea that his workers are compromised, and called the Republican Party’s allegations “unfounded, irresponsible and a distraction.”
“I don’t ask people’s political affiliations when we hire them. We have Republicans and Democrats working for us. I’m shocked that anyone working in public policy would have an opinion about anything,” he said sarcastically.
The race between Republican Bruce Poliquin and Democrat Jared Golden is extremely close, separated by about 2,000 votes. Because both candidates received 46 percent of the vote, ranked choice voting will come into play.
Every voter was able to rank Golden, Poliquin and the two independent candidates by preference. Votes cast for the independents will now be reallocated, based on who the voter put down as second choice. Whoever receives a 50 percent majority or more after RCV is calculated will become the winner.
The Maine Democrats issued a statement Monday critical of the Republican complaints.
"The Secretary of State's office is carrying out the Ranked Choice Voting process in a non-partisan manner and in accordance with the law that was twice-approved by Mainers at the ballot box...Not only are Maine Republicans' 'concerns' unfounded, it's clearly part of a national effort by Republicans to delegitimize the voting count in races they fear they could lose."
The Secretary of State’s office hopes to have the ballot processing completed by the end of the week.