Tuesday, November 27, 2018
Contact: Kristen Schulze Muszynski

Explanation of CD2 Final Tabulation

The final tabulation of votes for the Congressional District 2 race has been updated to include 6,125 votes that were not part of the unofficial tabulation completed on Nov. 15, 2018. The totals are now:

Golden: 142,440
Poliquin: 138,931

The discrepancy was identified as part of the same work process that our Elections Division does for every race and referendum, after every election. This is the verification process, when the results are crosschecked to ensure that the tabulation reflects all votes cast before it is submitted to the governor.

During the ranked-choice tabulation of the CD2 votes (which was conducted Nov. 9-10 and 12-15, 2018) the Elections staff scanned or uploaded all of the results from every municipality in the district. During this process, they certified that the votes they tallied for the voters’ first-choice candidate matched the vote tally reported by the clerk on election night or noted any minor discrepancies between the two. Once all the results were apparently loaded into the results program, we conducted the ranked-choice tabulation.

There are two aspects to the voting results, however: The results program saves both the vote tally and the “cast vote record” of each ballot. The cast vote record is a file that shows a representation of all the marks on the ballot. It is the cast vote record that is exported into Excel spreadsheets and used by the proprietary algorithm to run the ranked-choice voting tabulation. 

During the typical post-election certification process for the final tabulation, the Elections staff noticed a discrepancy when they crosschecked the number of cast vote records with the number of “total ballots cast” for each town. When they did not match for six towns, the staff investigated and discovered that those six towns had one or more ExpressVote ballots that they mistakenly fed into the tabulator. These ballots, which are marked using the accessible ballot-marking device, called ExpressVote, were not supported by the tabulator’s programming for this election and clerks were advised to count them by hand.

When these ballots were scanned by the tabulator, they caused an error that made the system unable to extract the cast vote records for any of the ballots that were tabulated in the same session. Thus, none of those votes were included in the unofficial ranked-choice tabulation we ran on Nov. 15. Typically, we would see an error message from the system when this occurs, but there was no such message in this instance.

The vendor was able to extract those cast vote records so we could add them to the tabulation for a true and accurate final tabulation to submit to Gov. LePage on Monday, Nov. 26. This separate spreadsheet will be posted on our website alongside the others from Nov. 15.

As most people are aware, our office does not release unofficial election tallies – only the official tabulation once all of this crosschecking is done. In an effort to keep the ranked-choice voting process open and transparent, we did release the unofficial result prior to completing the requisite quality checking of the vote, and this is a continued opportunity for the public to have a more in-depth look at the work and due diligence of our staff. Their thorough work has assured that every vote has been counted in the final tabulation, not only in this race but also in every other state and federal race and state referendum in the state of Maine.