The campaign is over, but the results will have to wait in Maine's 2nd Congressional District.
Republican incumbent Bruce Poliquin is in a virtual tie with Democrat Jared Golden. No matter who wins, the race will make history. It will be the first time a U.S. Congressional race will be decided by ranked choice voting.
"If we need to, we will start to send out the couriers tomorrow morning," said Secretary of State Matt Dunlap.
All of the ME-2 ballots would have to be collected by the courier service and brought to a central location for instant run-off tabulations.
Under this new system, voters were able to rank their choices in this four-way race for the House of Representatives. Because no candidate achieved 50 percent, ranked choice voting kicks in. Ballots for last place finisher, Independent Will Hoar, will be removed. The second choices on Hoar's ballots will be counted instead. If no candidate achieves 50 percent in that first round, a second round would remove the ballots going to third place finisher, Independent Tiffany Bond. The second choice candidate on Bond's ballots would be counted, giving either Poliquin or Golden a majority.
"It's going to be interesting, to say the least," said Don Hebert, a voter in Lewiston who supported Golden. He was surprised to learn it could take a week before final results are tabulated. "I'm going to be glad that it's after."
Maine became the first state to approve Ranked Choice Voting in 2016. Supporters hoped it would eliminate spoiler candidates and elect people who appealed to the majority.
Neither the Golden nor Poliquin campaign released a statement about the state of the race Wednesday. With more than 80 precincts reporting, the difference between the two candidates is a few hundred votes.
"I'm not surprised that it's that close," said John Stass, a Lewiston voter who supported Poliquin. "I think [Poliquin] would have done measurably better if he would have been more clear on support for Trump policies."
President Donald Trump won Maine's 2nd Congressional District in 2016.
Poliquin is the only Republican Congressman in the New England delegation.