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The Latest: Maine rejects universal home care

November 7, 2018
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Sen. Angus King, an independent, and his daughter, Molly Herman, show their optimism for King's re-election chances, outside a polling place, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018, in Brunswick, Maine. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — The Latest on Maine’s elections (all times local):

1:50 a.m.

Maine voters have rejected a first-of-its-kind referendum to provide universal home care to all seniors and individuals with disabilities despite income.

The referendum drew strong criticism from home care agencies, health care and business associations and all three gubernatorial candidates. Critics targeted the funding mechanism and also noted that it would provide coverage to people with the means to pay their own ways.

A new 3.8 percent tax is supposed to target wages and non-wage income that isn’t taxed by Social Security. But the referendum’s language means families earning over $128,400 could also be hit by the tax unless lawmakers fix it.

The referendum’s fiscal note says the program could serve more than 21,000 people and bring in $310 million in revenue to support it.

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1:30 a.m.

Maine’s independent U.S. Sen. Angus King has withstood a challenge from opponents on his ideological right and left to retain his seat.

King, a former Maine governor, defeated Republican state Sen. Eric Brakey and Democratic activists Zak Ringelstein to win a second term on Tuesday. King caucuses with the Democrats and was first elected to the Senate in 2012.

Tuesday’s election was the first U.S. Senate race to use Maine’s ranked-choice style of voting.

Brakey or Ringelstein could have forced additional voting rounds under the system if King had fallen short of 50 percent of the popular vote. But King, who has long been popular with Maine voters, had a decisive win.

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1:05 a.m.

Republican U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin and Democrat Jared Golden are locked in a tight race in Maine’s 2nd Congressional District, increasing the likelihood of additional tabulations in the first use of ranked-choice voting in a U.S. House race.

Neither Poliquin nor Golden was closing in on a majority of first-round votes as votes trickled in early Wednesday in a four-way race.

If no one wins a majority, last-place finishers are eliminated and the votes are reallocated.

The ranked-choice system is being used for the first time in U.S. House and Senate races in Maine.

Golden highlighted his military service while accusing Poliquin of trying to take away Mainers’ access to affordable health care and promising to protect gun rights. Poliquin, elected in 2014, touted his efforts to cut taxes and press for fair trade deals.

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12:55 a.m.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree has defeated a pair of challengers to retain her seat in Maine’s 1st Congressional District.

Pingree, who was first elected to Congress in 2008, represents the more left-leaning of Maine’s two Congressional districts. She was challenged Tuesday by independent state Rep. Marty Grohman, of Biddeford, and Republican Mark Holbrook, of Brunswick.

Pingree soundly defeated Holbrook in 2016.

Grohman hoped to take advantage of the state’s ranked-choice voting system, which is being used in congressional elections for the first time in Maine. He left the Democratic Party in 2017 after expressing frustration with partisanship in government.

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12:40 a.m.

Democrat Janet Mills has won the race to succeed firebrand GOP Gov. Paul LePage, becoming the first woman to serve as governor in Maine.

The former lawmaker and prosecutor on Tuesday defeated Republican businessman Shawn Moody and independent state treasurer Terry Hayes.

Mills pledged to usher in an era of “open doors” and collaboration in state government. She also vowed to change the tone after eight years of LePage’s combative style, and to fight LePage and Trump administration policies on environmental, immigration and welfare.

Maine has had other prominent women in politics but the state has never had a woman serve as governor.

Ranked-choice voting is being used in Maine’s federal elections Tuesday but not in the gubernatorial race because of state constitutional concerns.

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12 a.m.

Independent Sen. Angus King has declared victory in his bid for a second term.

King thanked his supporters and wished the best to his opponents, Republican Eric Brakey and Democrat Zak Ringelstein.

The Associated Press has not yet called the race.

The election marked the first use of ranked-choice voting. The system provides for additional rounds of tallies if no one gets a majority. But King said he felt confident that he’d reached the majority threshold of first-round votes.

King has said he intends to continue to be a bridge between the parties. He said late Tuesday that “our political differences should never stop us from listening, finding common ground and working together.”

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11 p.m.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree is claiming victory.

One of her opponents, independent Marty Grohman, already conceded. Also in the race is Republican Mark Holbrook.

Ranked-choice voting was being used for the first time in federal races in Maine. The system lets voters rank all candidates on the ballot. If no one gets a majority, then there are additional rounds of tallies.

Grohman and Holbrook hoped to use ranked-choice voting to their advantage if Pingree failed to win a majority.

Pingree had a commanding lead in early tallies in her bid for a sixth term. Pingree was leading with nearly 60 percent of the vote with more than a third of precincts reporting, but The Associated Press has not yet called the race.

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10:45 p.m.

An independent is conceding his bid to unseat Democratic U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree in Maine’s 1st Congressional District

Marty Grohman said Tuesday night he called Pingree to concede and to give her his full support.

Pingree was leading with nearly 60 percent of the vote in early tallies, but The Associated Press has not yet called the race. Also in the race is Republican Mark Holbrook.

Ranked-choice voting is being used for the first time in federal races in Maine. The system lets voters rank all candidates on the ballot. If no one gets a majority, then there are additional rounds of tallies.

Grohman had hoped to use ranked-choice voting to his advantage if Pingree failed to win a majority.

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10:20 p.m.

Independent state treasurer Terry Hayes has conceded in her quest for Maine’s governorship.

Hayes on Tuesday night thanked her supporters for standing behind her as a non-partisan choice.

The Associated Press has not yet called the race.

Hayes is a former Democratic legislator who has brushed aside calls to drop out in recent weeks. Hayes said she’d bring an end to partisan rancor in state politics and look at policy solutions based on their merits, not on politics.

The hotly contested race to succeed Republican Gov. Paul LePage is now down to Democratic Attorney General Janet Mills and Republican businessman Shawn Moody.

LePage cannot run again due to term limits and is set to leave office in January.

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8:20 p.m.

The Maine Democratic Party says a judge has ordered that a Portland polling place will remain open late.

Maine Democratic Party Chairman Phil Bartlett said Tuesday that a superior court judge ordered that the Italian Heritage Center polling location remain open until 9:30 p.m. Polls are closed everywhere else.

A car struck a utility pole around 3:30 p.m. on outer Congress Street. The crash spurred traffic.

Early voting data shows Maine has 45 percent more advance ballots cast than in 2014.

Democratic Secretary of State Matt Dunlap told WABI-TV that an individual at polls in Farmington was telling college students there will be consequences for registering to vote.

Dunlap said he didn’t feel like there was voter suppression but said that individual was exercising free speech rights.

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7:55 p.m.

The Democratic Party is requesting an extension to voting hours at a Portland polling place ensnarled by traffic from a motor vehicle crash.

A Maine judge is reviewing the request.

Secretary of State department spokesman Kristen Muszynski said Tuesday night that the process is pending. A court order is needed to keep the polls open.

Polls close at 8 p.m. in Maine.

Anyone in line at 8 p.m. will be allowed inside polls to vote.

A car struck a utility pole around 3:30 p.m. Tuesday on outer Congress Street, causing traffic and a power outage impacting Portland Jetport.

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5:10 p.m.

Voters are showing up at Maine polls despite long lines and rainy conditions.

The state’s top election official says he believes turnout will exceed the 2014 midterm record.

Maine Democratic Secretary of State Matt Dunlap tells reporters Monday he doesn’t think predictions of heavier rain into the evening will dampen overall turnout numbers.

Dunlap estimates up to 65 percent of eligible voters will turn out Tuesday.

Turnout is often above 70 percent in a presidential election year in Maine. The state’s voter turnout rates are often among the nation’s highest.

The state has received 175,000 of nearly 200,000 absentee ballots requested by Mainers.

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11:45 a.m.

Mainers aren’t just selecting candidates on Election Day. They’re also deciding a controversial proposal for universal home care and bond initiatives totaling $200 million on Election Day.

The first-of-its-kind home health care referendum calls for a 3.8 percent tax increase to provide home care for all Maine seniors and individuals with disabilities, regardless of income.

The referendum has drawn strong criticism from home care agencies, health care and business associations, and all three gubernatorial candidates. Critics say the referendum’s ambiguous language could mean higher taxes for all families earning over $128,400.

The four borrowing proposals would mitigate wastewater pollution, upgrade transportation infrastructure and fund improvements at colleges and universities.

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10:30 a.m.

Maine’s top election official said he’s receiving reports of a strong turnout, which is in line with projections.

Secretary of State Matt Dunlap expects up to 65 percent of the voting-age public in Maine to cast tallies in Tuesday’s election. That includes more than 170,000 people who cast tallies via absentee ballot ahead of Election Day.

Ranked-choice voting is being used for the first time in U.S. House and Senate races.

Republican Rep. Bruce Poliquin faces Democrat Jared Golden and two independents in the 2nd Congressional District. Democratic U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree in the 1st Congressional District and independent U.S. Sen. Angus King are engaged in three-way contests.

The race for governor features Democratic Attorney General Janet Mills, Republican businessman Shawn Moody and independent state Treasurer Terry Hayes.

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12:10 a.m.

A new way of voting makes its national debut in U.S. Senate and House races on Election Day in Maine. Mainers also are choosing firebrand Republican Gov. Paul LePage’s successor.

The hotly contested race for governor features Democratic Attorney General Janet Mills, Republican businessman Shawn Moody and independent state Treasurer Terry Hayes.

The most expensive race was in the 2nd Congressional District where Republican Rep. Bruce Poliquin faces Democratic state lawmaker Jared Golden. Democratic U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree in the 1st Congressional District and independent U.S. Sen. Angus King were both favored in three-way contests.

Ranked-choice voting is being used in the federal races. The system lets voters rank all candidates on the ballot. If no one gets a majority, then there are additional rounds of tallies.

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