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Voter turnout on higher side for off-year elections

Secretary of State Shenna Bellows says almost 38% of Mainers voted in the 2021 election, up from 17% in 2019

AUGUSTA, Maine — A few weeks ago, 37.98% of Mainers let their voices be heard on three referendum questions.

Secretary of State Shenna Bellows said that her office heard that voters were most interested in voting on Question 1, the CMP corridor, which Mainers shot down by about 60%.

"It certainly generated more interest than the transportation bonds that seem to be on the ballot year after year or even the constitutional right to food," Bellows said.

Absentee ballots and early voting, which were heavily used in the 2020 election because of the pandemic, is a trend that is here to stay, but the numbers were a bit misleading.

"We saw incredibly strong absentee ballot turnout ahead of election day, making us think that perhaps, turnout was going to exceed prior record," Bellows said.

According to the Secretary of State's office, absentee ballots were only about 26% of the total votes cast. Bellows added that it is more popular than before 2020.

"Absentee balloting is here to stay," she added.

With the 2021 election behind us, Bellows' office is already looking ahead to 2022.

"Supply chain disruptions created a little bit of anxiety, especially with access to the paper that is used for ballots or envelopes, so we will be doing our ordering early to prepare for 2022," she said.

The supply chain isn't the only thing the Secretary of State's office is preparing for.

Officials will also look at the state's election machines to ensure the devices used to count votes are in good order and ready for the next election.

Finally, Bellows and secretaries of state from across the country met with federal election leaders and national security officials to discuss cybersecurity and be prepared if foreign threats try to interrupt our elections.

NEWS CENTER Maine STORIES