Maine’s Republican Gov. Paul LePage has threatened not to certify the results of Tuesday’s primary elections in Maine, because the state is using an entirely new system of voting.
As Maine voters head to the polls to cast ballots in the nation’s first statewide election using ranked-choice voting (also known as instant-runoff voting), LePage sat down for an interview with the local TV station WCSH-TV, during which he called the new voting system “the most horrific thing in the world.”
“I will probably not certify the election,” LePage said. “I will leave it up to the courts to decide.”
#BREAKING: @Governor_LePage tells me he will 'PROBABLY NOT' certify the results of today's election, will 'leave it up to the courts to decide'—calling ranked-choice voting the 'most horrific thing in the world.' #NEWSCENTERmaine pic.twitter.com/wrKSofz7ov— Zach Blanchard (@ZachBlanchard) June 12, 2018
That’s left Maine’s other state officials scrambling to figure out what to do next, in the middle of election day.
Even if LePage follows through on his threat, there may be other ways to certify the election results. Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap told the Portland Press Herald that he is consulting with the state attorney general on other ways the votes could be certified, though he did not specify exactly how that could happen.
“It has to be certified, it is whether he does it or I do it, that is what we are trying to figure out right now,” Dunlap told the Press Herald’s Edward Murray and Peter McGuire.
LePage also incorrectly stated that Maine previously had ranked-choice voting in the 1880s but that then-Gov. Joshua Chamberlain got rid of it.
The Portland Press Herald was quick to point out that LePage had his historical facts wrong and was “apparently referring to a disputed election for governor in 1880.”
Maine’s adoption of ranked-choice voting is largely seen as a rebuttal to LePage, who was elected in 2010 with less than 40 percent of the vote and reelected four years later with less than 50 percent. Besides being known for his obscenity-laced language, the governor has used his power to drag out the implementation of the state’s Medicaid expansion, which passed overwhelmingly via ballot initiative last year.