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The 2020 General Election is November 3, which is less than a month away. There’s a lot to know before you mark—or are able to mark—your ballot.
As the Secretary of State’s Office says, by voting, you’re keeping Maine’s democracy strong. “For our democracy to work, we must all participate in the process. Please register and vote and encourage your family, friends and neighbors to do the same.”
So, with that—this guide will help you practice your civic duty to vote and feel confident your voice—and vote—will be heard come November 3.
Chapter one: Register to Vote
Not all states allow you to register to vote up until and on Election Day, but luckily for us, Maine is one that does. However, there are still deadlines that you should know about.
How to register in Maine
- To register to vote, you must be a U.S. citizen and have an established fixed principal home in Maine
- To vote to must be registered in the community where you live, and be at least 18 years old on Election Day
- You can register by filling out a voter registration card at your town office or city hall, through any Motor Vehicle branch office, in most state and federal social service agencies, or at voter registration drives.
- You can also download and print a Maine voter registration application. If you cannot print the voter registration application, contact your town clerk to have a voter registration card mailed to you.
- Completed voter registration cards may be hand-delivered or mailed to your town office or city hall.
- No deadline to register to vote in person at your town office or city hall
- You can register to vote in person at the polls on Election Day with a photo ID and proof of residence
- 15 days before the election (Oct. 19) is the cut-off date for registering to vote through mail or through voter registration drives
- The deadline is 15 days before the election (Oct. 19) to send voter registration applications in the mail to city hall or town clerk
- You can check the status of your absentee (mail-in) ballot at every stage of the voting process, including whether it was accepted or rejected. You can check the status of your ballot HERE.
As with Maine, in New Hampshire, you can also register to vote on or up to Election Day.
How to register in New Hampshire
- To register to vote, you must be a U.S. citizen, be registered in the community where you live, and be at least 18 years old on Election Day
- Register to vote at your town hall before the deadline
- Register on Election Day at your polling place
Whether you register in-person or by mail, you must fill out a voter registration form.
To register you need to provide proof of identity, age, citizenship, and place of residence. Proof can be either by documents or if you do not have documents with you, by affidavit. Documents may be presented in paper or electronic form.
- A driver’s license or non-driver ID from any state satisfies proof of identity and age.
- A birth certificate, U.S. Passport/Passcard, or naturalization document satisfies proof of citizenship.
- Proof you live in the town where you intend to vote. There are many documents that will satisfy this requirement, click here for a detailed list.
Note: A New Hampshire Real ID-compliant driver's license is NOT proof of U.S. Citizenship.
If you do not have these, you can prove your identity, age, and/or citizenship, by signing a Qualified Voter Affidavit, under oath, in front of an election official.
There is no minimum period of time you are required to have lived in the state before being allowed to register; you may register as soon as you move into your new community.
Deadlines in New Hampshire
- You can register to vote in-person on Election Day
- The last day to register in-person before Election Day varies by town, between 6 and 13 days before Election Day. Check your town/city website, or call your clerk's office for the date, time, and location of the Supervisor's meeting.
- If you’re mailing in a voter registration application, the application must be received between 6 and 13 days before Election Day, depending on which town you live in.
Chapter two: Voting Absentee
Many voters have turned to absentee voting as a way to vote safely amid the coronavirus pandemic. The Secretary of State's Office says requests for absentee ballots have already more than doubled the requests that were made in the 2016 General Election. According to recent data, nearly 150,000 Mainers have requested an absentee ballot so far, and the Secretary of State expects many more before the deadline.
Any registered Maine voter may choose to vote absentee, either via mail or in-person at their town or city hall prior to Election Day. Maine makes it easy to cast an absentee ballot. Unlike some other states, you don't have to have a reason to vote absentee. While traditionally active military and those overseas rely on this option, many are taking advantage of the hassle-free way to vote because of the pandemic. But, like with everything, there are still deadlines to know about.
What does a Maine absentee ballot allow you to do
Allows you to vote without going to a polling place on Election Day.
How to request an absentee ballot
- Through the Secretary of State's Office online request service
- Contact the municipal clerk in the town or city where you are registered to vote. Uniformed Service and Overseas voters will request an absentee ballot directly from the Secretary of State, Division of Elections.
- Request your absentee ballot by phone; it will be mailed to the address you provide to the clerk.
- Make a written request by completing an absentee ballot application
After I've requested my ballot, when will it come in the mail?
Municipal clerks receive the ballots 30 days prior to the election and will then begin to send ballots to voters who have requested them, beginning in early October.
Maine absentee ballot deadlines
- Absentee ballot requests must be made by Oct. 29 at 5 p.m. Municipal clerks receive the ballots 30 days prior to the election and will then begin to send ballots to voters who have requested them, beginning in early October.
- Absentee ballots must be turned in to the municipal clerk by 8 p.m. on Nov. 3
- If mailing your absentee ballot, voters are encouraged to put it in the mail no later than 7 days before Election Day—if later, drop it off in person or via ballot dropbox
How to absentee vote in New Hampshire
In New Hampshire, you may vote by absentee ballot if:
- You will be absent on the day of any state election from the county, city, or town in which you are registered to vote
- You are unable to appear in public on Election Day because of your observance of a religious commitment
- You are unable to vote in person by reason of physical disability
- You are unable to vote in person by reason of military service
- You are unable to appear at any time during polling hours at your polling place because an employment obligation (including the care of children or infirm adults, with or without compensation) requires you to remain physically at work or to be in transit to or from work from the time the polls open until after the time the polls close
All other voters are expected to vote in person.
- You should request your absentee ballot as far in advance as possible; the deadline to request a ballot is Nov. 2.
- Absentee ballots must be received by 5 p.m. on Election Night
Chapter three: In-Person Voting on Election Day
Of course, there is the traditional way to vote: on Election Day at your local polling place. This year in light of the pandemic, safety measures and health precautions will be in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
To be eligible to vote in Maine, you must be:
- 18 years old
- A United States citizen
- A resident of the municipality in which you want to vote
If you are not already registered to vote, you can register in-person on Election Day. However, you must show ID and proof of where you live. Proof of where you live can come in the form of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or government document that shows your name and address.
If you are already registered to vote in Maine, you do not need to show an ID to get a ballot.
Where and when to vote
- You can call your town office or city hall to find out where you vote.
- Voting places open between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. on Election Day, depending on the population of the town. Local officials can give you the exact opening time for your community.
- All voting places close at 8 p.m. on Election Day.
- You can find your polling place using the State’s Voter Information Lookup Service.
What to expect when casting your vote
- Maine uses paper ballots that voters mark by filling in an oval next to their choices. There are also instructions printed on each ballot. If you have a question, ask an election official.
- If you make a mistake, fold your ballot and give it to an election official. The election official will give you another ballot.
- Maine will use ranked-choice voting in the presidential and Senate races
- The state’s 50-person indoor gathering limit will be enforced at each polling location in Maine, to promote appropriate physical distancing. Voting booths will also remain six feet apart at polling places, and voter lines outside of polling places will be marked with signage to enforce physical distancing.
To be eligible to vote in New Hampshire, you must be:
- 18 years old
- A United States citizen
- A resident of the municipality in which you want to vote
If you are already registered to vote in New Hampshire, you still must show an ID to get a ballot. If you do not have your ID, you can still vote by signing a Qualified Voter Affidavit, under oath, in front of an authorized election official.
To find your municipal clerk, polling place, and polling place hours, CLICK HERE. Do not hesitate to call your municipal clerk for more information or clarification.
At the polls
- Polling places will be open for those in New Hampshire who wish to vote in person on Election Day.
- Precautions are being made to keep voters and poll workers safe. Personal protective equipment including masks, face shields, plastic table-top screens, gowns, gloves, hand sanitizer, single-use pens and pencils, and writing mats for voting surfaces will be provided in the polling place.
- Social distancing will be practiced along with sanitation measures recommended by public health officials. Contact your city or town clerk or moderator for more information.
Chapter four: Early Voting
Early voting, also referred to as in-person absentee voting, allows you to vote in person prior to Election Day.
How it works
- You can vote at your municipal clerk’s office as soon as absentee ballots are available, which will be by October 5.
- You do not need to complete an absentee ballot application if you vote early at your municipal clerk’s office. However, if you are not registered to vote, you must show ID and proof of where you live. Proof of where you live can come in the form of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or government document that shows your name and address.
The deadline for early voting this year is October 30 (normally it would be the final Thursday before the election, which would be October 29, but an executive order from Gov. Mills extended the deadline by one day).
New Hampshire does not offer an early voting period.
If you are unable to vote in person or do not wish to vote in person on Election Day, you must request an absentee ballot by mail or visit your municipal clerk's office to pick one up.
Chapter five: What You're Voting On
2020's General Election race features the race between the Democratic nominee former Vice President Joe Biden and the Republican incumbent President Donald Trump. Biden's running mate is California Sen. Kamala Harris, and Trump is again running with Vice President Mike Pence.
- Elected as 45th president in 2016
- Businessman and former TV personality
- From Queens, New York City
- 74 years old
- Key issues: Immigration, the economy and jobs, national security and defense
- Former Vice President serving under President Barack Obama
- Delaware Senator from 1973-2009
- From Scranton, Pa.
- 77 years old
- Also ran for president in 1988 and 2008
- Key issues: COVID-19 response, Affordable Care Act, foreign relations, racial and gender equality, climate
In addition to the presidential race, Maine's Senatorial race is seen as one of the biggest races in the country. Incumbent Republican Sen. Susan Collins is often a swing vote and if she's unseated, would help Democrats flip the Senate. It's become one of the most expensive races in Maine history.
Democrat Sara Gideon is looking to unseat Collins in her reelection bid. Independents Lisa Savage and Max Linn will also be on the ballot.
Susan Collins (R)
- Represented Maine in the Senate since 1997
- From Caribou, Maine
- 67 years old
- Key issues: Small business/Paycheck Protection Program, prescription drug prices, ‘Bipartisanship.' Click here to learn about the issues Collins is focusing on this election.
Sara Gideon (D)
- Speaker of the Maine House of Representatives since 2016, in House since 2012
- From Freeport, Maine
- 48 years old
- Key issues: Reproductive rights, the opioid crisis, reforming Washington. Click here to learn about the issues Gideon is focusing on this election.
Lisa Savage (I)
- Maine Green Independent Party
- Teacher and organizer
- From Solon, Maine
- Key issues: Green New Deal, COVID-19 response, Medicare for All. Click here to learn about the issues Savage is focusing on this election.
Max Linn (I)
- Ran for U.S. Senate in 2018, disqualified
- Retired financial planner
- From Bar Harbor, Maine
- Key Issues: Jobs, immigration reform, the environment and land conservation, student loan forgiveness. Click here to learn about the issues Linn is focusing on this election
U.S. House District 1
Republican Jay Allen looks to unseat Democratic incumbent Chellie Pingree.
Chellie Pingree (D)
- Has served as the U.S. Representative for Maine's 1st congressional district since 2009
- From North Haven, Maine
- Key issues: Health care and prescription drugs, women's health, social security, health care. Click here to learn about the issues Pingree is focusing on this election
Jay Allen (R)
- Family physician
- Army veteran
- No prior experience in politics
- Key issues: Jobs, the Second Amendment, the economy, health care reform. Click here to learn about the issues Allen is focusing on this election
U.S. House District 2
Republican Dale Crafts is looking to unseat Democratic incumbent Jared Golden.
Dale Crafts (R)
- Member of the Maine House of Representatives (District 56) 2008-2016
- Entrepreneur and businessman
- From Lisbon, Maine
- Key issues: Health care, military and veterans, Pro-life, the Second Amendment. Click here to learn about the issues Crafts is focusing on this election
Jared Golden (D)
- Assumed office in Congress in 2019
- Member of the Maine House of Representatives 2014-2018
- Marine Corps veteran
- From Leeds, Maine
- Key issues: affordable health care, environmental protections, labor unions. Click here to learn about the issues Golden is focusing on this election.
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Republican Chris Sununu is seeking his third re-election in November. He handily defeated two opponents in the primary in early September, and will now face Democrat Dan Feltes in the November election.