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Robert F. Bukaty / Maine Public

Election Officials Continue To Count Ballots While Awaiting Judge's Decision On Ranked-Choice Voting

As political observers wait for a federal judge to decide if he'll intervene in the nation's first ranked-choice voting election for a congressional race, state election officials continued gathering and counting the ballots that will determine the winner. State workers did their best to keep the looming legal dispute from distracting from the count. Evidence of the growing controversy over Maine's landmark voting law was everywhere.

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Mal Leary / Maine Public

Staff with the Maine Secretary of State's Office Wednesday resumed the ranked-choice voting count for Maine’s 2nd Congressional District race, as a federal judge began reviewing a request from incumbent Rep. Bruce Poliquin’s campaign to issue a restraining order to stop the count. They expect to finish the tabulation Thursday.

Joel Page / AP Photo

While the ranked-choice voting process continues in Augusta to determine the winner in the race for Maine's 2nd Congressional District, the two candidates vying for the seat are staying away from the count and from U.S. District Court in Bangor.

Updated at 2:58 p.m. ET

Votes are still being counted in several House races. But the AP has now called another race in New Jersey, projecting Democrat Andy Kim the winner in the suburban Philadelphia 3rd Congressional District over incumbent Republican Tom MacArthur.

That means, more than a week after Election Day, Democrats have increased their House gains to a net of 34 seats — and, when all the vote is counted, they may get to 39.

Make no mistake: That is a very big wave.

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An outbreak of pertussis is forcing Kennebunk school officials to cancel an annual Thanksgiving luncheon.

Updated at 12:53 p.m. ET

Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker's temporary appointment was legal, the Justice Department said in a memo on Wednesday — but it did not address whether he must recuse himself from the Russia investigation.

President Trump has the power to appoint Whitaker as an acting replacement for former Attorney General Jeff Sessions because Whitaker has been a senior enough leader for more than a year, the Office of Legal Counsel concluded.

Whitaker was Sessions' chief of staff.

Maine Public

Outgoing Maine Gov. Paul LePage says he might run against Democratic Gov.-elect Janet Mills in four years.

Robert F. Bukaty / Associated Press

Maine 2nd District incumbent Bruce Poliquin's federal court challenge to ranked-choice voting raised several legal issues with the system. On Tuesday Poliquin filed an injunction and temporary restraining order to halt the count of ranked-choice voting results.  Dimitri Bam, associate dean for academic affairs at the University of Maine School of Law, unpacked some of those issues with Maine Public's Morning Edition host Irwin Gratz.

The holiday dinner conversations are going to be intense in several high-profile Democratic households in the coming weeks, as potential candidates near decisions on whether to run for president in 2020.

Even as their staffs and political advisers have already begun scouting out office space, interviewing potential aides, and plotting out strategy for the 2020 presidential election, most haven't completely made up their minds about entering what's expected to be one of the most crowded primary contests in history.

Robbie Feinberg / Maine Public/file

Student test scores in Maine slipped in the 2017-2018 school year. "We did see a slight decline across the board in student test results," says Rachel Paling, communication director for the Maine Department of Education.

Updated at 5:15 p.m. ET

House Republicans elected top leaders Wednesday to oversee their transformation from an ideologically diverse majority power to an increasingly conservative minority in the next session of Congress.

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