As the July 14th primary election nears, Maine voters have requested absentee ballots that far exceed numbers from previous years.
Data from the department of the Secretary of State indicate that as of June 26th, 137,247 ballots have been requested. Maine’s June 2018 primary saw 35,982 requests total.
The nearly fourfold increase may in part be attributed to recommendations from city and town clerks and nonprofits. They are encouraging Mainers to vote by absentee ballot in order to prevent overcrowding at polls.
“If you are registered to vote and able to receive mail, please vote absentee. That will reduce crowds at polling places and increase safety for poll workers and voters who need to vote in person,” a statement from the League of Women’s Voters of Maine says.
Secretary of State Matt Dunlap is also urging voters to partake in the absentee ballot process.
“It’s a simple way to cast your vote from the safety of your own home,” he said in a video released last month.
The election, originally scheduled for June 9th but postponed in an executive order by Governor Janet Mills, includes a Democractic primary for U.S senator and a Republican primary for the congressional nomination in the 2nd district. Mainers will also cast votes in dozens of local primaries and decide on two statewide bond questions.
Those who choose to vote in person will be asked to follow COVID safety measures detailed in an executive order by Gov. Mills. Voters and workers will be provided sanitizers and bacterial wipes and are expected to maintain 6 foot distances. Masks will also be required for workers and are strongly recommended––though not mandated––for voters.
Maine residents may request an absentee ballot online or by telephone through July 9th, and have up to election day to request a ballot in person. All ballots must be received by the city or town clerk by 8 pm on July 14th.