Voter Protection Hotline
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The General Election is when we choose our next President, US Senator, US House members, state legislators, and other local officeholders
Our elections determine 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. All you have to do is register and cast your ballot!
What Does it Mean to Be a “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. That’s true even if you’ve had to temporarily leave that residence due to Covid-19 and aren’t sure when it will be safe to return to school.
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 live in Maine but 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 a printed voter registration card, you can always download the voter registration form here. Make sure you fill out the entire form following the same guidelines linked above.
Handing or Mailing In Your Voter Registration Form
After you’ve 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 Deadline
If you’re going to mail in your voter registration form (or participate in a voter registration drive), it must be received at your town office or city hall, or the Secretary of State’s office in Augusta, by Tuesday, October 13.
That deadline exists so that your clerk has time to process your registration and add you to the rolls of registered voters at your polling place before Election Day.
If you miss the deadline and still wish to register, you can go to your town office or city hall during its business hours and fill out or hand in your voter registration card in person. You can find your town office or city hall address through VoteInMaine.com/clerks.
Be sure to bring the documentation verifying your identity and residency 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. You can find your designated polling place at VoteInMaine.com/lookup.
Note that if you do plan to register at your polling place, you’ll have to bring proof of your identity and residency.
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 in Maine, 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.)
Checking Your Registration
If you’re not sure whether you’re registered, call your town office or city hall and ask! You can find your clerk’s phone number through VoteInMaine.com/clerks.
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. You can vote for any candidate you choose on November 3rd, regardless of your or the candidate’s party affiliation.
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 stamp(s) 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 (If you still have your ballot on Election Day, most towns require delivery to the town office. Some prefer delivery to the polling place, or will accept your ballot at either. Call your clerk to confirm—find their number at VoteInMaine.com/clerks)
Voting On Election Day
Finding Your Polling Place
Everyone has a designated polling place based on the address of their Maine residence. 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.
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 or by mail—if 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 “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 Election Day, 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 November 3 general election, this deadline to vote via in-person absentee ballot is Thursday, October 29
What If I Need an Absentee Ballot After the Deadline?
If there are extenuating circumstances, you can request an absentee ballot after Thursday, October 29—just call your town office or city hall to get details about how to do so. 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; and
- 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 two other individuals.
Is there a Deadline to Request an Absentee Ballot?
The deadline to request an absentee ballot is October 29, the Thursday before Election Day. (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 clerk or the Secretary of State (for overseas and uniformed voters) by 8pm on Election Day.
It’s Election Day, and I Still Have My Ballot—Where Should I Bring It?
On Election Day, most ballots must be returned to town offices. However, some will be closed because staff is all at the polling place. Other towns will allow returns to either the office or the polling place. On Election Day, you should call your clerk to find out what is preferred. Find your town office phone number by typing your town into VoteInMaine.com/clerks
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 on Election Day if you prefer not to mail it in. See question above for details on how to do so.)
Ranked Choice Voting
In Maine, many offices are elected through a process called “ranked choice voting” or RCV.
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 candidate 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 November 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).