Election 2011

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Originally published in Compass, October 6, 2011
Absentee ballots and voter registration explained

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Absentee ballots and voter registration explained

This year’s general election in Maine will be held Tuesday, November 8, and will include four statewide ballot questions and any local elections or questions.

The four questions include a people’s veto to reject a new requirement to register to vote by the end of the third business day before the election, two citizen initiatives about allowing gambling, and a constitutional amendment changing the redistricting schedule for the state.

More information will be published about these questions in the Penobscot Bay Press Election Primer published in print and online October 27, and a full citizen’s guide to these questions is available at www.maine.gov/sos/cec/elec/upcoming.html.

Voting absentee

Maine residents can vote by absentee ballot any time before the election. You must pick up an absentee ballot no later than Thursday, Nov. 3 (this may be earlier if your town office is not open on Thursday. See listings below for hours).

Applications to receive your ballot by mail are available now, and ballots are available at town offices. You can call your town office to request a ballot be mailed to you, pick one up in person, or request one online from the state at www.maine.gov/cgi-bin/online/AbsenteeBallot/index.pl. You cannot vote online, but you can request the ballot be mailed to you.

To be counted in the election, ballots must be received by the town clerk by 8 p.m. on Election Day, November 8.

You do not have to have a reason to cast your vote by absentee ballot. If voting in the presence of your town clerk/registrar of voters, you don’t need to complete an application.

If you do not want to or are unable to come to the polls and want someone outside your immediate family to handle the absentee ballot for you, you must make a written request for that specific person to pick up and hand-deliver the ballot to you. Only this person may handle the absentee ballot. Ballots cast in this way must be witnessed by a notary public, a municipal clerk, a clerk of courts, or two other witnesses.

Can I register to vote on Election Day this year?

Though a law was passed last legislative session to require voters to register by the end of the third business day before an election, you can register to vote up to and including Election Day (Nov. 8) this year.

The law is currently suspended pending the November vote, said Deputy Secretary for Communications Caitlin Chamberlain. “Since the law is up for people’s veto, it’s under suspension pending the outcome,” she explained. The first question on the state ballot this year is a People’s Veto about whether to repeal the law that requires voters to register by the end of the third business day in advance.

However, parts of the law that require voters to pick up absentee ballots at least three days before the election are in effect; if you want to pick up an absentee ballot, do so before the end of the day on Thursday, Nov. 3.

Town clerk information

Polling hours are still being set and will be published before the election. Here’s when the Registrar of Voters/Town Clerk is available in your town:

Blue Hill: Town Clerk Etta Perkins, 374-2281. Office hours: Mon.-Fri., 8 a.m.-4 p.m.

Brooklin: Registrar of Voters Jeannine Hardy, 359-8394. Office hours: Tue. and Thu., 2-5 p.m.

Brooksville: Registrar of Voters Amber Bakeman, 326-4518. Office hours: Mon. and Wed., 9 a.m.-2 p.m.; Thu., 6-8 p.m.

Castine: Registrar of Voters Susan Macomber, 326-4502. Office hours, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Deer Isle: Registrar of Voters Becky Knowlton, 348-9398. Office hours: Mon. and Wed., 9 a.m.-12 p.m.; Thu., 4-7 p.m.

Isle au Haut: Registrar of Voters Susan MacDonald, 335-5577.

Penobscot: Registrar of Voters Mary Ellen Gross, 326-4364. Office hours: Mon., 9 a.m.-12 p.m. and 1-5 p.m.; Tue. 4-8 p.m.; Thu. 9 a.m.-12 p.m. and 2-5 p.m.

Sedgwick: Registrar of Voters Cynthia Reilly, 359-2275 or 326-9012. Office hours at town office: Wed. 1:30-6 p.m. and Thu. 2:30-5:30 p.m. At home: Tue., 7-9 p.m.

Stonington: Registrar of Voters Lucy Bradshaw, 367-2351. Office hours: Mon. through Fri., 8 a.m.-4 p.m.

Surry: Town Clerk Angela Smith, 667-5912. Office hours: Tue.-Fri., 8 a.m.-4 p.m.