PORTLAND, Maine (AP) - Republican U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin said Tuesday that a recount in his failed re-election bid is necessary to make sure every vote is counted by hand under Maine's new election system.
A day after requesting a recount , Poliquin reiterated his distrust of the "black box computer algorithm" that calculated the final election tally. He told reporters that "this is not about who wins or loses this election."
"It would be a heck of a lot easier to walk away from this," Poliquin said.
Democratic Rep.-elect Jared Golden was the winner by about 3,500 votes under Maine's ranked-choice voting system. He said dragging out the process "hurts the people we were elected to serve."
Poliquin won the first-round ballot by nearly 2,000 votes, but lost after an additional round in which votes were reassigned after the elimination of the third- and fourth-place candidates.
Poliquin on Tuesday tried to cast doubt on the election results. He said his campaign received reports from "hundreds of people" about confusion with the new ranked voting system, including conflicting instructions to voters at the polls.
Poliquin also claimed that "thousands and thousands" of ballots were set aside. "That is very, very unusual," he said.
But a spokeswoman for Democratic Secretary Matt Dunlap said that's incorrect. "There have not been any ballots set aside," Kristen Schulze Muszynski said.
The ranked-choice system lets voters rank all candidates from first to last on the ballot. If no one gets a majority, then last-place candidates are eliminated and their second-place votes are reallocated.
Ballots can still get counted even if voters don't rank a candidate as their top pick, as long as voters rank another candidate. Voters can also rank just one candidate.
Poliquin also questioned how "hundreds of additional votes" could have been overlooked in the tabulations conducted before the media on Nov. 15.
Dunlap's office on Monday sent out official results that included about 6,000 additional votes that weren't included in that tally. Officials said the error occurred due to votes not uploading properly into election software at polling places in six cities.
Maine's official results show Golden won with 142,440 votes and Poliquin with 138,931 votes.
"This is nothing new or different than what we do for every other election," Muszynski said. "It's part of the work to make sure everything's accurate."