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Everything you need to know ahead of the July 14 Maine state primary election

The Senate and House races are the big-ticket items, but there’s more on the state primary ballot. Here’s what you need to know before heading to the polls.

MAINE, USA — The Maine State Primary and Special Referendum Election was moved from June 9 to July 14 over concerns of the coronavirus. In April, Gov. Janet Mills signed the Executive Order to move the election to July and to allow applications for absentee ballots to be made in writing or in person, without specifying a reason, up to and including the day of the election.

Gov. Mills, Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap, and other state officials have urged voters to opt for absentee ballots rather than voting in person to protect against the spread of COVID-19—and their calls seem to have been answered. More than 163,000 people in Maine have requested absentee ballots, according to the latest data from Dunlap’s office. It’s a record for Maine.

How to vote

To vote in a Referendum or General Election, you must be registered in the community where you reside and be at least 18 years of age. A 17-year-old may vote in a Primary Election if that person will be 18 by the General Election.

There is no cutoff date to register to vote in person, which can be done at your town office, city hall, or polling place. You’ll need to bring proof of residency and an ID. 

You can also download and print a Maine voter registration application and mail that in. If you cannot print the voter registration application, contact your town clerk to have a voter registration card mailed to you. A printed version of the voter registration card, with your original signature, must be kept on file by your town clerk, so the card cannot be transmitted electronically.

Completed voter registration cards may be hand-delivered or mailed to your town office or city hall. The deadline to submit voter registration to the municipality by mail or by a third person is Tuesday, July 7, rather than 21 days prior to the election which is typical. Check this listing for telephone and mail contacts for each town and city.

Read Gov. Mills' elections Executive Order:

To get an absentee ballot:

  • You can contact your local clerk or fill out the form on the Sec. of State's website to have it mailed to you.
  • Once you receive your ballot, fill it out. Remember to sign the envelope.
  • Mail it back to your local clerk. You can also deliver it to your clerk in-person or by using a dropbox if they have one.

Your ballot must be delivered no later than 8 p.m. on Tuesday, July 14.

Maine Secretay of State Matthew Dunlap says the USPS must deliver your ballot even if it doesn't have postage, but your town or city will have to pay whatever is due, which impacts your local budget. 

RELATED: VERIFY: Your mail-in ballot will be sent regardless if it has a stamp or not

If you prefer the more traditional in-person voting method, polls will be open on election day. The Secretary of State's office says voters should 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 sanitization measures in place at your polling site. Click here for a complete breakdown of how in-person voting has changed amid the pandemic.

Every town and city has its own places where people vote. You can call your town office or city hall or go online to find out where you vote. In Portland, early in-person voting began at Merrill Auditorium on June 23 and will be open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Based on your residency, you must vote at your polling place. Hours for polling places across the state vary, but generally are open between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m., and all polls close at 8 p.m.

  • For municipalities with a population of 500 or more – the polls can open between 6 a.m. and 8 a.m.
  • For municipalities with a population of less than 500 – the polls can open between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m.

Local officials can give you the exact opening time for your municipality.

What you're voting on

U.S. Senate:

If you're registered to vote as a Democrat, your ballot will show the candidate options for the Democratic opponent to Republican incumbent Susan Collins: Sara Gideon, Betsy Sweet, and Bre Kidman. This will be in the ranked-choice format, meaning you will pick your first, second, and third choice.

How to properly mark a ranked-choice ballot:

RELATED: The 207 interview: Democratic Senate candidate Bre Kidman

RELATED: The 207 interview: Democratic candidate for Senate Sara Gideon

For more information about ranked-choice voting, click here.

RELATED: Maine U.S. Senate candidates share (virtual) stage for the first time since November

U.S. House of Representatives:

If you're registered as a Republican in Maine's 2nd Congressional District, your ballot will have the three options for candidates vying to be the GOP nominee to unseat Democratic incumbent Jared Golden: Eric Brakey, Adrienne Bennett, and Dale Crafts. 

RELATED: The 207 interview: Republican candidate for Congress Adrienne Bennett

RELATED: The 207 interview: GOP candidate for Congress Dale Crafts

RELATED: The 207 interview: Republican candidate for Congress Eric Brakey

Questions:

Maine Treasurer of State Henry Beck explains the bond issue which will be voted on in the Referendum elections:

"The State of Maine borrows money by issuing bonds. General Obligation bonds are backed by the full faith and credit of the State and must be submitted statewide to the voters for approval. Once approved, the Treasurer issues bonds as needed to fund the approved bond projects and uses a rapid 10-year repayment of principal strategy to retire the debt. If the bond proposals on the ballot in July 2020 are approved by the voters, general obligation debt service as a percentage of the State’s General Fund, Highway Fund and Revenue Sharing appropriations is expected to be 2.81% in FY21 and 2.92% in FY22."

Question 1: Bond issue

An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue for Infrastructure To Improve Transportation and Internet Connections:

“Do you favor a $15,000,000 bond issue to invest in high-speed internet infrastructure for unserved and underserved areas, to be used to match up to $30,000,000 in federal, private, local or other funds?”

Dunlap explains that this Act would authorize the State to issue general obligation bonds in an amount not to exceed $15,000,000 to raise funds to invest in high-speed internet infrastructure projects. The bonds would run for a period not longer than 10 years from the date of issue and would be backed by the full faith and credit of the State. 

A “Yes” vote approves the issuance of up to $15,000,000 in general obligation bonds to finance high-speed internet infrastructure. 

A “No” vote opposes the bond issue in its entirety.

Question 2: Bond issue

An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue for Infrastructure To Improve Transportation and Internet Connections:

“Do you favor a $105,000,000 bond issue for improvement of highways and bridges statewide and for multimodal facilities or equipment related to transit, freight and passenger railroads, aviation, ports, harbors, marine transportation and active transportation projects, to be used to match an estimated $275,000,000 in federal and other funds?”

Sec. Dunlap explains that this Act would authorize the State to issue general obligation bonds in an amount not to exceed $105,000,000 to raise funds for transportation projects. The bonds would run for a period not longer than 10 years from the date of issue and would be backed by the full faith and credit of the State. 

RELATED: MDOT says new highway bond money needed now

The proceeds from the sale of these bonds would be administered by the Department of Transportation for the following purposes: 

  • Highways, bridges, and secondary roads – $90,000,000 would be expended to improve highways and bridges statewide, including replacement of the Madawaska International Bridge and associated costs of relocating utilities, as well as to repair secondary roads in partnership with municipalities pursuant to the existing Municipal Partnership Initiative program, and associated activities. 
  • Multi-modal projects – $15,000,000 would be expended on multimodal facilities and equipment related to passenger rail and public transit (public transportation), freight rail, aviation, ports, harbors, marine transportation, bicycle and pedestrian projects (referred to as “active transportation projects”) and associated activities.

A “YES” vote approves the issuance of up to $105,000,000 in general obligation bonds to finance transportation-related activities. 

A “NO” vote opposes the bond issue in its entirety.

Read the Secretary of Sates's complete breakdown of the ballot questions:

RELATED: Maine officials see unprecedented demand for absentee ballots ahead of July 14 primary election

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