News Feature

Blue Hill
Web exclusive, March 26, 2020
Blue Hill to hold drive-through voting April 3
Absentee ballots must be requested by Friday, March 27

by Anne Berleant

In a virtual meeting Wednesday, March 25, selectmen approved the town elections and referendum vote being held April 3.

For those voting by absentee ballot—and the town office is encouraging voters to call for absentee ballots or download them from the town website—they must be requested by Wednesday, April 1, 5:30 p.m.

With emergency legislation allowing voting to be postponed up to two days before the scheduled date, selectmen had adopted a wait-and-see approach after COVID-19 guidelines and restrictions were announced. Selectmen had already postponed the public business portion of town meeting, scheduled for April 4, to April 25.

“It’s going to get worse before it gets better, and if we can get something done…,” Selectman Jim Dow began the discussion that quickly veered into the how-tos of voting during the time of coronavirus rather than a delay.

Drive-through voting will keep citizens, staff and ballot clerks safe, selectmen and Town Administrator Shana Ambrose agreed.

One or two tents will be erected at the edge of the George Stevens Academy parking lot. As voters approach, they will be handed a ballot and disposable pencil through their car window by a gloved ballot clerk and, after voting, will place the completed ballot in the ballot box themselves, and leave via the Blue Hill Consolidated School lot’s one-way turn-around exit.

“The voter is the only one who will touch the ballot except for [Town Clerk] Etta [Perkins],” Ambrose said. “Consideration was taken with this whole process.”

Selectmen also voted to shorten voting hours to stay within daylight hours, ending at 6 p.m. instead of 8 p.m., with polls opening at 10 a.m., with confirmation from Maine Municipal Authority that the hours change was legal.

The 2019 Town Report is available online, and copies may be picked up during voting hours at the GSA/BHCS parking lot.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated from its original version to change the date when absentee ballots can be requested.