Michael Brennan became the latest to stop in at the State of Maine Room at City Hall, where Day 2 in the Portland mayoral vote counting process is well underway.
As has been the case for nearly three hours now, thousands of yellow ballots are being fed into scanners as elections officials tredge through a painstaking process to definitively determine who the first popularly elected Portland mayor in 88 years will be.
This year, as I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts, Portland voters ranked candidates from No. 1 through No. 15 in the crowded mayoral race, and only first choice votes were counted on Election Day. Today, on Day 2, the second choice votes of the lower ranked candidates will be reallocated among higher ranked candidates through several rounds of “instant runoffs” until one individual candidate has more than 50 percent of the votes.
Brennan came into the day as the frontrunner, with 5,240 first choice votes counted on Election Day, followed by Ethan Strimling, who garnered 4,390, and Nicholas Mavodones, at 2,398 tallies.
With several hours still left in today’s process, Brennan said he’s not uncorking the bubbly just yet.
“I’m obviously a little bit nervous,” Brennan said while elections officials toiled away in a large roped-off section of the room nearby. “But I’m cautiously optimistic. I’d certainly rather be where I am than where some of the other candidates are, but this is uncharted territory. How all the second choice votes come in remains to be seen.”
Brennan said he aimed to campaign on a broad range of issues and to a broad range of constituencies, knowing he would need second choice votes in order to win the overall race.
He said he wishes the process of working through the instant runoffs was quicker, so the public and candidates could learn more quickly who the winner is, but said he and all of the other hopefuls “knew what the rules were when we announced our candidacies.”
He also echoed comments made earlier today by Strimling and fellow mayoral candidate David Marshall, who said voters they encountered at the polls found the ranked choice ballot understandable.
“I didn’t have anybody who came out and said, ‘I think I made a mistake’ or … ‘I was so confused and didn’t know what to do,'” Brennan, who like many of the candidates, greeted voters at polling locations throughout the day Election Day.