Voter Protection Hotline
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ELECTIONS THIS YEAR
There are three elections in Maine this year:
This election was about choosing the nominee for president. For Democrats, the choices were Joe Biden, Mike Bloomberg, Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg, Tulsi Gabbard, Amy Klobuchar, Deval Patrick, Bernie Sanders, Tom Steyer, Elizabeth Warren, Marianne Williamson, and Andrew Yang.
Note that Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, Deval Patrick, Tom Steyer, Marianne Williamson, and Andrew Yang had dropped out of the race before the election; however, their names still appeared on the ballot.
This election—originally scheduled for June 9, but delayed due to the Covid-19 crisis—is about choosing nominees for other offices, such as the US Senate and US House seats, as well as for seats in the Maine state legislature and for local offices
The General Election to choose our next President, US Senator, US House members, state legislators, and other local officeholders
These elections will choose who represents Mainers at the local, state, and national level for the next two, four, or six years, depending on the office. These officials will be making decisions about your lives and the lives of your friends and loved ones.
They’ll do things like:
- setting the minimum wage and levels of other public benefits
- making rules about your healthcare and education
- choosing who sits on the Supreme Court of the United States
- deciding which potholes to fill in around your neighborhood.
It is your right to participate, whether you’ve lived in Maine for decades or whether you just moved here for college or just became a US citizen.
Maine is your community, and your voice matters—plus, if you don’t choose your representatives, someone else will be making that choice for you.
WHO CAN VOTE?
If you are an American citizen, reside in Maine, and will be eighteen or older on or before November 3, 2020, you are eligible to vote in all three elections. All you have to do is register and cast your ballot!
You must be enrolled in a party to vote in its primaries. For example, you must register as a Democrat if you wish to vote in the Democratic primary on July 14 (formerly scheduled for June 9), and voters were required to enroll as Democrats to vote in the presidential primary on March 3.
You don’t need to be eighteen yet! If you’re going to turn eighteen on or before November 3, you can enroll in a party and vote in its primaries.
(If you’re not eighteen yet, you won’t be able to vote on the referendum questions on the primary-day ballots. Confused about that? Contact us!)
What Does it Mean to Be an “American Citizen”?
If you were born in the United States, you are a citizen. If you were born abroad to at least one parent who is a US citizen, you are a citizen.
If you immigrated to the United States, you would have become a citizen through the naturalization process.
If you are in the United States as a visitor, on a visa, or as a permanent or conditional resident (i.e. someone with a Green Card), you are not a citizen and you are not eligible to vote.
What Does it Mean to “Reside in Maine”?
In Maine, “residing” means you meet two standards: (1) you have established a fixed home and (2) you intend to return there after temporary absences.
For example, if you are a college student who has a dorm (or rented room or apartment) to which you return after school breaks, you meet the standards for residency.
You do not have to intend to stay in Maine forever. You are a resident for as long as you live here—and, as a resident, you have a stake in your community and the state.
If you are from Maine and left for school or a temporary job, you are entitled to keep your Maine residency and register to vote here/maintain your existing registration, as long as you don’t register to vote in your new location.
If you live abroad but had your last fixed US home in Maine, you still qualify and can register as a voter in the municipality of that home. (For more information about voting as an American abroad, see Vote From Abroad’s FAQ.)
If you are incarcerated in Maine and your last address was in the state, you can also maintain registration (or newly register) as an absentee voter with that last address and cast an absentee vote from the facility where you are incarcerated.
HOW TO REGISTER TO VOTE
Registering to vote in Maine involves filling out a voter registration card and then handing or mailing it in. Be sure to fill out both sides!
Getting the Voter Registration Form
You can get the voter registration card—a green rectangle printed on card stock paper—at your town office or city hall. Voter registration cards are also available at motor vehicle branch offices and many other government agency offices. You’ll also find these voter registration cards at voter registration drives that may happen on your campus or in your community.
If it’s difficult to get your hands on one of a printed voter registration card, you can always download the voter registration card here. Make sure you fill out the full form following the same guidelines linked above.
Handing or Mailing In Your Voter Registration Form
After you filled out your voter registration form, you can submit it in person or by mail to your town office or city hall, or mail it to the Secretary of State’s office: Division of Elections: #101 State House Station, Augusta, ME 04333-0101.
Be sure to follow the instructions on the form, including the attachment of proof of your identity and residency. (You don’t need that documentation in order to vote, but you do need it to register.) For this attachment, make clearly legible photocopies of the documents you are using—don’t send the originals.
Mail-In Registration Deadlines
If you’re going to mail in your voter registration form (or participate in a voter registration drive), it must be received by the twenty-first day before the election.
That deadline exists so that the clerk at your town office or city hall—or the Secretary of State in Augusta—has time to process your registration and add you to the rolls of registered voters at your polling place before election day.
The deadlines for your mailed-in voter registration card to be received this year are:
For the presidential primary on Tuesday, March 3, the deadline for receipt of your mailed-in registration was: Tuesday, February 11
For the primary for other offices on Tuesday, July 14 (formerly scheduled for June 9), the deadline for receipt of your mailed-in registration is: Tuesday, July 7
For the general election on Tuesday, November 3, the deadline for receipt of your mailed-in registration is: Tuesday, October 13
If you miss the deadline and still wish to register, you can go to your town office or city hall during their business hours to hand in your voter registration card in person.
Be sure to bring the documentation verifying your identity and residence that’s requested on the voter registration form. Again, you won’t need that documentation in order to vote, but you do need it to register.
Registering on Election Day
If you’re not able to register to vote ahead of Election Day or miss the deadline, you can vote at your polling place on Election Day under Maine’s same day registration law!
Just head to the polling place associated with the address of your residence and ask to register before you vote.
Note that if you do plan to register at your polling place, you’ll have to bring proof of your identity and residence.
Maine’s voter registration card requests that new voters demonstrate their identity with a Maine driver’s license or state ID, or with the last four digits of their Social Security number. These are considered “verified unique identifiers.”
In addition to verified unique identifiers, other items can be used to prove identity. According to the statute governing identity for voter registration, clerks can consider:
- Government-issued photograph identification document or credential. A government-issued photograph identification document or credential, including, but not limited to, a current and valid United States passport, military identification, driver’s license or state identification; or
- Other government-issued identification document. A government-issued identification document without a photograph, including, but not limited to, a certified birth certificate or a signed social security card; or
- Other official documents. An official document, including, but not limited to, a document confirming eligibility determinations for public benefits, a utility bill, a bank statement, a government check, a paycheck or other government document that shows the name and address of the voter
Note that you don’t need to have any particular item from the above list. For example, not having a government-issued photographic identification document does not prevent you from registering to vote in Maine. On the contrary, any of the above can on its own demonstrate your identity to the clerk reviewing your registration.
According to the Secretary of State—the “chief elections officer” of Maine—the clerk who reviews your voter registration card can consider the following factors regarding your residency:
- a direct statement of your intention to reside at a particular place;
- the location of any dwelling you currently occupy;
- the place where you have registered your motor vehicle (if you own the vehicle);
- your current income tax return showing your residence address;
- the residence address where your mail is received;
- the residence address on your current hunting or fishing license;
- the residence address shown on your driver’s license;
- your eligibility for public benefits based on residency; or
- any other objective facts that tend to indicate your place of residence.
Note that you don’t need to have any particular item from the above list. For example, having a car registered elsewhere does not prevent you from registering to vote in Maine. On the contrary, any of the above can on its own demonstrate your residency to the clerk who is reviewing your registration card.
What Should I Bring to Register?
To most easily and efficiently prove your identity and residency, bring:
- a government-issued ID with your Maine address on it
- an ID without your Maine address along with a printed utility bill, bank statement, or similar document showing your Maine address
However, you don’t need these particular items as long as you can demonstrate to the clerk taking your registration that you meet the identity and residency requirements as listed above.
If you have questions or problems when you attempt to register, call us at (207) 990-0788.
Updating Residence After Moving
If you move within Maine after you register to vote—for example, if you are a student living in a different dorm or apartment during each semester or year of your enrollment—you must update your voter registration with your new address.
You update your voting address in the same way you register to vote the first time: by filling out the voter registration card and handing or mailing it in, or by updating your registration in-person at your polling site on Election Day.
Can I Register Online?
Maine does not have online voter registration.
However, with this tool provided by Register2Vote.org you can submit your information online, and then you’ll be mailed a voter registration form pre-filled-out for you. That form will come with an addressed and postage-paid envelope to return it with copies of necessary identification to the Secretary of State in Augusta. (If you use this tool, be mindful that there may be a delay between your submission of the form online and when you receive it.)
Switching Party Registration to Vote in a Primary
Registering in a party is easy even if you’re already registered with another party. Simply go to your town office or city hall and let the clerk know you would like to change parties. The clerk will give you a new registration card where you’ll mark your new party designation.
For example, check “Democrat” if you’d like to switch your registration from the Republican or another party, and then submit the card to the clerk.
If you are unregistered or registered as an “unenrolled” voter, thanks to same day registration, you can register or switch to a party on the day of a primary election at your polling place.
If you are registered as member of the Democratic Party, Republican Party, Green-Independent Party, or another party, you cannot switch party registration on the same day as the Primary. The cut-off date to switch between different parties before a primary is the close of business on the 15th day before the election.
For the March 3 presidential primary, the deadline to switch parties was Friday, February 14
For the July 14 primary for other offices (previously scheduled for June 9), the deadline to switch parties is Friday, June 26
You can vote for anyone you want in the November 3 general election regardless of party affiliation, so there is no need to switch parties ahead of time
Checking Your Registration
If you’re not sure whether you’re registered, call your town office or city hall and ask!
If you don’t get a chance to do so before Election Day, you can always go to the polling place for your address and—if you’re not on the rolls—you can register then and there. Just don’t forget to bring proof of your identity and residence.
HOW TO VOTE
Voting is easy!
Once you’re registered, Maine doesn’t require any documentation from you in order to cast your ballot.
Additionally, there are many options for when and where to vote. You can:
- Vote at a polling place on Election Day
- Vote via absentee ballot by mail
- Vote via an in-person absentee ballot ahead of Election Day at your town office or city hall, or at a mobile in-person absentee voting site
Voting absentee? Remember!
- Sign the back of the envelope
- Attach a stamp if mailing (one for one ballot, two for more)
- Whether you’re mailing or delivering in person, make sure it’s received by 8pm on Election Day
Voting On Election Day
Finding Your Polling Place
Everyone has a designated polling place based on the address of their Maine residency. If you registered before Election Day, you will be on the “voter rolls” at the location designated for your address. If you plan to register on Election Day, go to the polling location designated for your address, and you’ll be added to the voter rolls then and there.
The Maine Voter Information Lookup Service will tell you where your designated polling place is. Simply enter the address of the residence you listed when you registered (or the residence you will list if you’re going to register on Election Day), and the website will tell you your polling place.
Most municipalities in Maine have one polling place for the whole community. Others, like Portland, have multiple polling places for residents that vary by address.
Polling Place Hours
When your polling place opens varies depending on your municipality—some open as early as 6am while others open as late as 10am.
The Maine Voter Information Lookup Service that tells you where to vote will also show you the Election Day hours of your polling place.
Polls close throughout Maine at 8pm on Election Day. Note that if you are in line to vote at 8pm, you must be allowed to vote. Even if 8pm comes and you’re still waiting, don’t go home before you vote!
How Do I Fill Out My Ballot?
Each ballot explains how to mark your choices. If you have a question, ask an election official before you mark your ballot. If you make a mistake, fold your ballot, give it to an election official, and ask for a replacement ballot. The election official will give you a new one.
After you fill out your ballot, you’ll enter it into a ballot scanner. Don’t worry—your paper ballot will be preserved as a back-up record of your vote. And remember: though there will be a record that you voted, how you voted will forever be completely secret.
Can I Have Help Voting?
Yes. If you need help reading or marking the ballot, you may ask a relative or friend for assistance. The helper does not have to be a voter or old enough to vote. An election official can also help you read or mark a ballot. However, your employer or union official cannot help you vote.
Are Polling Places Accessible?
All polling places should be accessible to those with disabilities.
According to the Secretary of State, “Since 2006, the Secretary of State has worked with municipalities to enhance the physical accessibility of voting places as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 and the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA).” Additionally, “The Secretary of State has implemented an initiative to provide an Accessible Voting System (AVS) at each of Maine’s voting places.”
If you’re able to call your town office, city hall, or the Secretary of State ahead of time to confirm the accessibility of your designated polling place, that may be helpful. And, any voter can choose to vote absentee ahead of time—in person by mail—if for any reason they would prefer not to visit their polling place in person on Election Day.
What If I Go to the Wrong Polling Place?
If it turns out you’re at the wrong polling place, the poll workers at the site will help you identify where you should go. If it’s too late to go to your designated polling place before the polls close, ask to fill out a “provisional” or “challenged” ballot, which is for voters who aren’t on the rolls.
In Maine, challenged ballots are automatically counted unless the election is so close that challenged ballots are the deciding factor. In that case, challenged ballots are reviewed more closely and you’ll have a chance to ensure yours is included before results are finalized.
Voting Before Election Day
You don’t need to vote on Election Day. Any voter may choose to vote absentee for any reason. There are two ways to do so: by mail and in person.
Absentee Voting In Person
Starting 30 days before an election, your town office or city hall will have absentee ballots on site.
If you wish to vote via an absentee ballot in person, you can go to the office during their regular hours and ask to vote via an in-person absentee ballot. You can also request an absentee that you’ll mail in or hand in later. For the July Primary, you can request an absentee ballot in writing or in person through Election Day. (Usually, the deadline to request an absentee ballot is the Thursday before Election Day; that deadline still applies for ballots requested by phone or online.) As a result, for this year, these deadlines are:
For the March 3 presidential primary, this deadline was Thursday, February 27
For the July 14 primary for other offices (originally scheduled for June 9), this deadline is Tuesday, July 14
For the November 3 general election, this deadline is Thursday, October 29
What If I Need an Absentee Ballot After the Deadline?
For the July 14 primary only, the deadline has been changed to Election Day, and so there will be no absentee issuances after the close of the polls.
For November, when the deadline remains the Thursday before Election Day, if there are extenuating circumstances, you can request an absentee ballot after that—just call your town office or city hall. These special circumstances are:
- An unexpected absence from the municipality during the entire time the polls are open on election day;
- A physical disability,
- An inability to travel to the polls because the voter is a resident of a coastal island ward or precinct; or
- An incapacity or illness that has resulted in the voter being unable to leave home or a treatment facility.
Absentee Voting By Mail
You may request an absentee ballot that you’ll mail back in five ways:
- In person at your town office or city hall
- By telephone to your town office or city hall
- Via the Secretary of State’s online absentee ballot request form
- By mail to your town office or city hall
- By fax to your town office or city call
To request an absentee ballot by phone, call your town office or city hall and say you’d like an absentee ballot. You’ll provide the mailing address where it will be sent.
To request an absentee ballot online, go to the following link, click the orange box that corresponds to whether or not you are a uniformed or overseas voter, and then follow the directions:
To request an absentee ballot in person, you can go yourself to your town office or city hall during its regular hours.
If you’re unable to go, an immediate family member can pick up an absentee ballot for you.
Alternatively, the Secretary of State advises that “you may make a written request for a ‘third person’ (someone other than the voter or the voter’s immediate family member) to obtain and hand-deliver an absentee ballot. You must designate, in a written request or application, the specific third person who will handle and deliver the ballot. Only this designated third person may handle the absentee ballot. Ballots cast in this way must be witnessed by either a notary public, a municipal clerk, a clerk of courts, or 2 other witnesses.”
You or your immediate family may request an absentee ballot by mail or fax. To request a ballot by mail you can send a letter with the following information to your town office. Find their address and fax number.
To make it easy, you can fill out this form. However, you don’t have to use that form: you can write all the info on any piece of paper.
The piece of paper must contain:
- Residence address
- Signature of the voter or of the immediate family member making the request. State the relationship of the family member if applicable
- If the ballot will be sent to a different address, that address
If the voter received assistance with the application due to disability, the application must include the name and signature of the person assisting and whether they helped the voter read or fill out the application or both.
If the voter wants to have a non-family member pick up the ballot or drop it off, they must name this person on the request. Ballots cast in this way must be witnessed by either a notary public, a municipal clerk, a clerk of courts, or 2 other witnesses.
Is there a Deadline to Request an Absentee Ballot?
For the July 14 primary only, the deadline to request an absentee ballot has been changed to Election Day. Currently, for November, the deadline to request an absentee ballot remains the Thursday before the election. (If you need to request one after that deadline, see “What If I Need an Absentee Ballot After the Deadline?” above.)
Sending Your Ballot Back In
After you’ve received your absentee ballot, complete and mail it promptly. Alternatively, hand it in to your town office or city hall in person. (If you are a uniformed or overseas voter, mail it to the Secretary of State’s office in Augusta.) Follow the directions on the ballot!
Should I Mark My Ballot in Pencil or Pen?
You should use a ballpoint pen to complete your ballot, not a pencil or felt-tip pen.
Is there a Deadline for Sending My Ballot In?
Your returned absentee ballot must be received by your municipal office, city hall, or the Secretary of State by 8pm on Election Day.
If I Request an Absentee Ballot, Can I Still Vote in Person?
Yes, even if you request or receive an absentee ballot, you are entitled to go to your polling place in person to cast a vote there instead. Just rip up and throw away the absentee ballot after you’ve voted at the polls. (You are also free to hand in your completed absentee ballot in person at your town office or city hall on Election Day if you prefer not to mail it in.)
Ranked Choice Voting
In Maine, many offices are elected through a process called “ranked choice voting” or RCV.
Note, however, that Ranked Choice Voting is not in effect for the presidential primary on March 3.
Under RCV, you don’t just have to choose one candidate out of everyone running with the top vote-getter winning the election—even if they only get a plurality of the vote. (Imagine one hundred voters deciding between five candidates. Without RCV, someone could win with just 21 votes out of 100 if three other candidates get 20 votes each and the fifth gets 19.)
Instead, you can rank the candidates based on who you like from most to least (though you don’t have to rank them if you don’t want to). Then, if your first choice candidate receives the fewest first-choice votes, your vote gets applied to your second-choice candidate. The process continues until a candidate gets over 50% of the votes. That way, we know that the winner is actually the person most voters want.
Here’s a quick video explaining the process from non-partisan group FairVote:
Remember, you have the right to register and cast your ballot if you are a citizen, live in Maine, and will be 18 or old on or before 11/3/2020.
Below is the list of Maine voters’ rights provided by the Secretary of State. Click here for a printable version of your Maine Voter Rights.
The U.S. Constitution gives all citizens the right to vote.
I can register to vote in Maine if:
- I am a United States citizen;
- I live in Maine; and
- I am 17 years old and will be 18 years old by Election Day. 21-A MRSA §111.
If I am registered to vote in Maine, I can vote. I do not need to show ID to get a ballot. 21-A MRSA §§111 and 671.
I may vote by absentee ballot instead of voting in person at the voting place. I do not need a reason to vote by absentee ballot. 21-A MRSA §§751 and 753-A.
If I am not registered to vote, I can register on Election Day and vote. (I must register in person and must show ID and proof of where I live.) 21-A MRSA §121.
I cannot be turned away from my voting place. I must be allowed to vote a challenged ballot. (If I don’t have ID or proof of where I live, I will cast a challenged ballot. I may be asked to show ID after the election.) 21-A MRSA §§121, 161 and 673.
If I am in line at the voting place at 8:00 p.m. on Election Day, I still may register and vote. 21-A MRSA §§127 and 626.
I may see a sample ballot and get help on how to mark my ballot before I vote. I also may ask for help to read or mark my ballot. 21-A MRSA §§651 and 672.
If I make a mistake, I can get a new ballot. 21-A MRSA §693.
I have the right to use Maine’s Accessible Voting System (AVS) at my voting place. 21-A MRSA §629(1)(A-1).
I may not be harassed when voting or be pressured about how to vote. 21-A MRSA §§672 and 682.
If I am under guardianship, I may vote. Doe vs. Rowe, 156 F. Supp. 2d 35 (D. Me. 2001).