Don’t forget, there’s an election on July 14

There’s a lot going on these days. Between the global COVID-19 pandemic and economic crisis, a contentious national conversation about racism and police brutality, and the impending presidential election in November, you’d be forgiven if you didn’t realize that there’s an election coming up in Maine in just a couple of weeks.

Maine’s state primary election will be held on July 14. This election was originally scheduled for June 9 this year but, as the COVID-19 pandemic continued, Gov. Janet Mills made the decision to push the election back a month to give more time for municipalities and the state to prepare and to give voters more time to request absentee ballots.

Elections like these rarely generate the headlines or attention that presidential or other high-profile races do, but they’re still very important. This year, in addition to voting in party primaries for U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives, State House and county seats, we will also be asked to approve several state and local ballot measures.

Two state bond measures will be on the ballot. If approved, Question 1 would authorize a $15 million bond to invest in reliable, high speed internet in Maine, and Question 2 would authorize a $105 million bond to improve roads and bridges.

Penobscot County voters will also be asked to approve a $6 million bond to upgrade equipment on towers that relay signals to emergency responders and in the Penobscot County Communications Center. 

Many towns and cities also have local referendums on the ballot, including school budgets and other issues.

It’s understandable that many folks might be worried about going out to vote in a public location with a bunch of other people during the COVID-19 pandemic. Luckily, in Maine, it’s very easy to vote by mail ahead of time and skip that process altogether. 

Unlike in some states, in Maine, you do not need a stated reason to vote absentee. Simply go online to voteinmaine.com or call your local town or city clerk. Once you request a ballot, one will be sent to your home in the mail. Fill it out, place it in the envelope provided, sign the back of the envelope, and either mail it back or drop it off at your town office or city hall. It’s as easy as that.

The deadline to request a ballot is 5 p.m. Thursday, July 9. You can also vote early in person at your local town office or city hall up until that date.

If you plan to vote in person on Election Day, expect some changes. Allow additional time to complete the voting process, as wait times are expected to be longer than usual due to capacity limits, social distancing and sanitation measures in place at your polling site. Before you go to vote, please double check that your polling place has not changed, as the provisions in place for this election allow polling place consolidation up to 15 days ahead of Election Day. 

You can find your polling place online at voteinmaine.com or by contacting your town office or city hall. And please be patient with poll workers. This is all new to them too.

If you have any questions or concerns about the upcoming election or anything else, I’m happy to talk anytime. You can reach my office at 207-287-1515 or send me an email at james.dill@legislature.maine.gov. Remember, I work for you.

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