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2020 Maine Election: Your questions answered

You ask, we answer. Here’s a breakdown of important things to know about the upcoming November 3 General Election in Maine.

MAINE, USA — When is the election? 

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Who is running? 

President Donald Trump is seeking reelection against Democratic challenger former Vice President Joe Biden

There are third party candidates running as well, but which candidates are on the ballot varies by state. In Maine, you'll see Jo Jorgensen (Libertarian), Howie Hawkins (Green Party), and Roque "Rocky" De La Fuente (Alliance Party) on the ballot in addition to Biden and Trump.

RELATED: Who are the third party candidates running for president?

What is the electoral college and how does it work?

When you vote on Election Day, you're not just casting a vote for who you think should be president. You're also voting for the electors that will represent your state in voting for those candidates. 

Each political party chooses the electors before the election. Whichever candidate wins that state, that party's electors will represent the state in the Electoral College.

The number of each state's electors is based on the number of members it has in the House of Representatives and the Senate, per Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution. Every state has two senators, so the x-factor is how many representatives they have -- a number based on its population.

A simple majority of electoral votes are needed to win: 270. What happens in the popular vote doesn't matter.

Click here to read a complete, more detailed explanation of the electoral college. 

RELATED: How did the US get the electoral college and how does it work?

How does the electoral college work in Maine?

Maine is one of two states in the U.S. that splits its electoral votes (the other is Nebraska). Maine has four total electoral votes up for grabs. In 2016, Hillary Clinton won three, and Donald Trump won one. 

Here's a breakdown:

  • 2 votes: Whoever wins the popular vote statewide.
  • 1 vote: Whoever wins the popular vote in the 1st Congressional District.
  • 1 vote: Whoever wins the popular vote in the 2nd Congressional District.
Credit: WikiMedia Commons

How does ranked-choice voting work?

Another outlier among the 50 states, Maine will be the first state in U.S. history to implement ranked-choice voting in a presidential election this November. 

Voters rank candidates in order of preference, and no winner is declared until one candidate receives at least 50 percent of the vote. The votes are tabulated in rounds, with the lowest-ranked candidates eliminated in each round until there are only two candidates left. The candidate who is determined to have received the majority of the votes (more than 50 percent) in the final round is declared the winner.

If no candidate wins a majority of votes on Election Night in the races that have three or more candidates, the ballots and memory devices from each municipality are securely transported to a central tabulation site in Augusta. There, the winner is determined via rounds.

Click here for a complete, detailed explainer about ranked-choice voting and how it works. 

RELATED: What is Maine ranked-choice voting and how does ranked-choice voting work?

How long will it take for a winner to be declared?

Barring a clear landslide, Americans will likely not know the 2020 presidential election winner between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden on Election Night. The results may not be clear for days or weeks due to the expected record flood of mailed ballots and the legal challenges that will surely follow.

RELATED: Why the presidential election could take a month or more to decide

Can I track my absentee ballot?

Yes. The Secretary of State's Office recently launched a tracking service so you can track your ballot at every step of the process. Any voter who has requested an absentee ballot can track the status of their request, and of the ballot itself, through the Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020 General Election.

Voters must enter their name, date of birth, and city of residence to check on the progress of their ballot. They will see a grid that will show whether their request was accepted or rejected by the clerk, as well as the date it was delivered to the voter, and the date when the completed ballot was returned to the clerk.

The tracking service can be found at the top of the online absentee ballot request page.

RELATED: Sec. of State launches absentee ballot tracking service

If I vote via mail, what would stop me from voting in person also?

The Secretary of State's Office says when you vote by absentee ballot in the State of Maine, your municipal clerk will take receipt of the ballot and verify that it can be accepted. Once they do so, they will mark your name in the voter system as “AV” for “absentee voter.” 

Thus, when they print out the incoming voter list just before Election Day, your name will already be “checked off” with the indicator marking that you have already voted via absentee ballot, and you will not be eligible to receive a ballot if you show up to vote in person.

On Election Day, some voters are still dropping off their absentee ballots and the town office is still receiving some by mail. Absentee ballots are processed in batches throughout the day and the list of those newly received absentee ballots is shared with each polling place for each batch, so if the absentee voter tries to vote in person, they will not be able to do so. (And conversely, if they vote in person before their ballot arrives that day, their absentee ballot will be rejected).


This is a running list of questions and answers that will be continually updated through the election. Do you have a question you'd like us to answer? Send them to us by texting 207-828-6622.

Be sure you check out our 2020 Voter's Guide for answers to questions that may have already been answered. 

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