AUGUSTA, Maine — After overseeing his last election as the Maine Secretary of State, Matt Dunlap is extending his congratulations to municipal clerks and election workers across the state for conducting a safe election amid the pandemic.
Dunlap notes that in addition to the inherent challenges brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, Maine saw record-breaking voter turnout of nearly 78 percent of registered voters.
The state and clerks worked for months to ensure voting could be done safely amid the pandemic. Polling places were outfitted with numerous safety measures including limiting the number of voters inside a polling place, sanitizing voting booths, installing table-top sneeze guards at the ballot tables, and requiring face coverings for poll workers. Dunlap and Gov. Janet Mills expanded vote-by-mail initiatives and deadlines to ease accessibility.
“The Elections Division staff worked tirelessly to add these safety measures for the July 14, 2020 Primary Election and build upon them for the General Election,” Dunlap said. “Most voters do not realize the amount of work that goes into preparing for an election, and to have the pandemic considerations on top of all the regular election work was incredibly challenging.”
Dunlap reported Tuesday that the Maine CDC has no record of any COVID-19 outbreak investigations associated with polling places on Election Day.
“Voting in-person in Maine was a safe option even during this pandemic, which is a testament to our partnerships and the impressive dedication of our municipal clerks in implementing the disease prevention measures for voters and election workers,” Dunlap said.
Dunlap says the Department of the Secretary of State staff worked in partnership with the Governor’s office and clerks across Maine and “rose to the challenge and ultimately kept our voters and poll workers safe while maintaining the integrity and accessibility of this important election.”
Dunlap also thanked Maine companies FlowFold and L.L. Bean, which donated face shields and face masks, for helping to protect election staff and poll workers.
Dunlap will leave the job at the end of this year because of term limits. Dunlap has served a total of 14 years in the office, first three 2-year terms, then a break from 2011-2012 when Republicans controlled the Legislature, then four consecutive terms from 2013 through 2020. The limit is four consecutive terms.
Democrats in the new Maine Legislature are set to meet Tuesday to decide who Dunlap’s successor will be. In Maine, the Legislature elects the Constitutional Officers -- Secretary of State, Attorney General, State Treasurer and State Auditor. Because Democrats are the majority party in the Legislature, they are virtually assured of having their candidate elected.
Six Democrats are vying to be secretary of state:
- Rep. Matt Moonen of Portland
- Sen. Shenna Bellows of Manchester
- Rep. Craig Hickman of Winthrop
- Rep. Erik Jorgensen of Portland
- Sen. Justin Chenette of Saco
- Former Rep. Tom Bull of Freeport
Dunlap said the job requires treating all people and all political interests the same.
“The one question anybody who runs for this job has to be willing to answer is ‘Can you say no to your friends?’ And if you can’t say no to your friends, you will compromise yourself very quickly," he said.
Don Carrigan contributed to this report.