How ranked-choice voting will impact election night

AUGUSTA, Maine - Ranked-choice voting is going to be used in the primary elections this yea. Secretary of State Matt Dunlap says that election night is going to look a whole lot different.

"The way we're going to handle this is that on election night your town clerks are going to count the votes the way they have, but will only be counting the first place votes" said Dunlap. "So we'll have a pretty good idea on election night as to what the next steps are going to look like. We'll know what the first round is on election day or shortly there after."

Unless a majority winner is found in every race, cities and towns will send their results to Augusta. The tabulator towns will send a memory device and the paper ballot towns will send their ballots. This process of collecting materials and counting them will most likely take a few days to complete.

"Taking the memory devices and copying over the images to our central computer which is going to be stand alone and not connected to anything else. Then downloading the images and taking the ballots and running them through a high speed tabulator. Then taking those images and adding them to the images of the tabulator towns. Once everything is loaded in, we'll run the algorithm and in about half a minute we'll know how the rankings came out."

According to the state of Maine website, this primary election is going to cost around $110,000 more than normal.

"We're going to bring in extra staff, obviously our budgetary costs are going to be higher than in a normal election. The money is going into things like technology and personnel along with the contract for the high speed tabulator and the secure bonded couriers."

Dunlap says the advances in technology have been nice and is hoping everything runs smoothly on election day.

"To do it by hand would take a long time. This is sort of where we started and when we first talked about ranked choice voting a few years ago the prospect was pretty daunting. With technology and the security of the paper ballots, because you always have the paper ballots if there is any doubt in the election. You can always go back and double check. I think we're going to have something that people can trust."

Debates will continue Wednesday, June 6th, at 7 p.m. WAGM will be broadcasting these debates on-air and online.