Quick Thoughts: The Tabulation Process for Maine’s 2nd Congressional District Was Ridiculous

Although the final ballots for the 2018 election were cast well over a week ago, there are still a handful of races that still haven’t been decided. Some of them, like the special one in Mississippi’s Senate, require runoffs, while others, like the contest for Florida Governor, will see recounts.

Most of the still uncalled races, though, are in the House, and that’s because late voters and strange methodologies often complicated to tabulate. This is especially the case in Maine, where ranked-choice voting has made the process of finding a winner even more laborious. But Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap has an interesting solution: Microsoft Excel.

Earlier this morning, the Maine Department of the Secretary of State started a Facebook livestream, detailing the tallying process for the 2nd Congressional district, and instead of using some fancy proprietary election software, Dunlap loaded up an Excel spreadsheet and went to work with his aides. Along the way, they turned to reliable shortcuts like the “Find and Replace” command and learned the difference between “Save” and “Save As.” Of course, this was all done on a projector for a small crowd.

After about a half-hour of work, the race was finally called for Democrat Jared Golden, unseating GOP incumbent, Bruce Poliquin.

Using Excel was certainly a strange way to resolve the race, especially because it’s not only way. While Maine is the only state uses ranked-choice voting, the required “fancy proprietary election software” certainly exists.  Thus, there appears to be no real excuse for Dunlap’s tabulation process; it was just silly.

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