Making Democracy Work

Elections & Voting

Information on how to register and vote in Maine.

General Election

The next General Election in Maine will be November 5, 2013.

Statewide, we will have five bond measures on our ballots.

Since the ballot is different for each town, look for voter information and a sample ballot at your town's website. Sample ballots may not be available very far in advance of the election. For example, sample ballots for Ellsworth can be found at the website for the City of Ellsworth. And here are links to sample ballots for the City of Portland. If your town has not posted a sample ballot, please call them and ask them to do so. Find contact information for your town on the State of Maine website.

November 5, 2013 -- Statewide Ballot Questions

Statewide, we have five bond measures on our ballots this year. Comprehensive information on the ballot questions can be found in the Citizens Guide to the Referendum Election, published by the Secretary of State.

The statewide ballot measures, in the order they appeared on the November 5, 2013, General Election ballot, are:

Question 1: Do you favor a $14,000,000 bond issue to provide funds for the State's share of maintenance, repair, capital improvement, modernization and energy efficiency projects for Maine Army National Guard readiness centers and support facilities and the purchase of land for training and to draw down federal matching funds?

Question 2: Do you favor a $15,500,000 bond issue to enhance educational and employment opportunities for Maine citizens and students by updating and improving existing laboratory and classroom facilities of the University of Maine System statewide?

Question 3: Do you favor a $100,000,000 bond issue for reconstruction and rehabilitation of highways and bridges and for facilities or equipment related to ports, harbors, marine transportation, freight and passenger railroads, aviation and transit, to be used to match an estimated $154,000,000 in federal and other funds?

Question 4: Do you favor a $4,500,000 bond issue to provide funds for a public-private partnership for a building project for a new science facility at the Maine Maritime Academy to be matched by other funds?

Question 5: Do you favor a $15,500,000 bond issue to upgrade buildings, classrooms and laboratories on the 7 campuses of the Maine Community College System in order to increase capacity to serve more students through expanded programs in health care, precision machining, information technology, criminal justice and other key programs?

Easy-To-Read Voter Guide

The League of Women Voters published its sixth annual Easy-to-Read Voter Guide for the November 2013 General Election. The Guide is nonpartisan. This means we do not support or oppose any candidate or political party.

Find Your Polling Place

To find your polling place, just enter your address at the Voter Information Lookup web page of the State of Maine:

Voter Eligibility

You are eligible to vote in Maine if you are:

A citizen of the United States
An established resident in the municipality where you intend to register and vote
At least 18 years of age (you may register when you are 17, but you must be 18 years old to vote)

Click here for more information on establishing residency from the Maine Secretary of State's web site.

Register to Vote

It's never too late to register to vote in Maine.

You can register to vote until, and including, Election Day. There is no cut-off date for registering to vote in person at your town office or city hall. On Election Day, you can register right at your polling place.

Voters do not need to be enrolled in a party to vote in a general election, on any statewide ballot question, or in a municipal election.

Register by mail:

If you register by mail, registrations must be received by your Town Clerk no later than three (3) weeks prior to Election Day.

Click here to find your Town Clerk's address from the Secretary of State's web site.

Registrations may also be mailed to the Secretary of State in Augusta:

Bureau of Corporation, Elections and Commissions
101 State House Station
Augusta, Maine 04333.

Registrations mailed to the Secretary of State should be received thirty (30) days prior to Election Day.

Register in person with your Town Clerk

Click here to find your Town Clerk's address.

Click here to find the State of Maine Voter Guide.

Absentee Voting in Maine

Absentee voting allows you to cast a ballot without going to a polling location on Election Day. Any registered voter in Maine may cast an absentee ballot instead of voting in person at a polling location on Election Day. Absentee voting is anonymous and convenient. You can request an absentee ballot by mail, by phone, online, or in person. For full information about Maine's Absentee Voting Service, click on this link to the Secretary of State's page.

The deadline to request an absentee ballot is the Thursday before Election Day unless the voter completes a special circumstances application, stating one of three allowable reasons for requesting an absentee ballot after this deadline. The three reasons are:

  • An unexpected absence from the municipality during the entire time the polls are open on Election Day;
  • A physical disability, or an incapacity or illness that makes the voter unable to leave home or a treatment facility; or
  • An inability to travel to the polls because the voter is a resident of a coastal island ward or precinct.

This special circumstances application must be signed by the voter.

You may vote in person, using an absentee ballot, at the municipal clerk's office as soon as absentee ballots are available, 30 to 45 days before the election, up to the Thursday before Election Day. You don't need to complete an absentee ballot application if you vote in person at the clerk's office. To obtain your municipal clerk's contact information, click on this web site.

Request an absentee ballot by mail:

Click here to download a blank request form for printing:

Make your request early to allow enough time for the ballot to be mailed to you.

Mail to your Town Clerk. Absentee ballots must be received by 8:00 p.m. on Election Day to be counted.

Click here to find your Town Clerk's address.

Request an absentee ballot by phone from your Town Clerk:

Click here to find your Town Clerk's phone number.

Request an absentee ballot in person at your Town Office:

Absentee ballots are available to voters from at least thirty (30) days prior to Election Day, through Election Day. Once available, you may obtain an absentee ballot in person from your Town Clerk.

Click here to find your Town Clerk's address.

Request an absentee ballot online:

Click here for an online request form.

A Guide to Absentee Voting in Maine

Click here for the State of Maine Absentee Voter Guide.

Early Voting

Early voting is available in Maine through in-person absentee voting. Eligible voters may submit an absentee ballot in person in the office of an election official as described below under Absentee Voting. Ballots submitted in this way are cast in the same way as other absentee ballots, on Election Day or the day before.

True early voting is defined by the Maine Secretary of State to mean a time period before an election during which voters have the opportunity to cast a ballot at a designated voting place within their municipality in the same manner as on Election Day. This is technically a different process than the in-person absentee voting, with ballots being cast by the voter during the early voting period. The Maine Constitution and Maine law currently prohibit true early voting.

Read more about Early Voting at the Secretary of State's web site.

Maine Voter Rights

You can vote in Maine if you are:

A citizen of the United States

An established resident in the municipality where you intend to register and vote

At least 18 years of age

Voters with questions and concerns can call the toll free election protection hotline, 1-866-OUR-VOTE. The Election Protection voter empowerment program is a coordinated nonpartisan effort to address obstructions of voting rights. Questions can also be directed to the State's Elections Division in Augusta at 624-7650.

For more information on voter rights in Maine, click here.

Avoiding Problems at the Polls

Your Ballot, Your Vote. Don't panic if you registered to vote but your name is not on the list. Get help from a poll worker to make sure your vote is counted. Remember, Maine has same day registration. You can still register on Election Day. You may be directed to another polling place. Or you may be given a challenged ballot.

Challenged ballots are a safeguard for voters whose eligibility is in question on Election Day, including those whose voter registration is in doubt, who may have been purged from the voter list by mistake, or who registered by mail and have I.D. problems. No one who is eligible to vote should be turned away. (The only eligibility requirements are U.S. Citizenship, age of at least 18 years, and residency in the municipality where the person registers to vote.)

I.D. - Don't Go Without It. You may need to show identification. To be safe, bring your driver's license, or a paycheck, utility bill or government document that includes your name and street address. First-time voters who registered by mail may be asked to present I.D. prior to voting on Election Day. If you don't have appropriate I.D., you may vote a challenged ballot.

Writing on the Wall. Look at the signs at the polling place for directions on how to mark your ballot, a list of your voting rights, and instructions for filing a complaint if your rights have been violated. Among other things, information regarding what constitutes a spoiled ballot and instructions for securing a new ballot should be provided. If you make a mistake on a ballot, you can ask for another.

When in Doubt - Ask. Poll workers are there to help you. They'll show you how to mark your ballot and give you a challenged ballot if you need one. If you're at the wrong polling place, they should tell you how to get to the right one. Poll workers are a wealth of information for voters. And you won't be alone - this year promises to bring out more first-time voters than ever before. You won't be the only one with questions.

In and Out. You probably won't have to wait too long. But even if the line is long, don't leave without voting. The outcome of this election will be important!

Avoid the Crowds. Many voters feel they don't have time to vote, and that's why they haven't participated in the past. If you can, go to the polls during the off hours: 10 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. - 3:30 p.m. Or you can vote at home! Absentee voting is anonymous and convenient. You can get an absentee ballot by phone, by mail, or in person from your Town Clerk.

Still have a problem? Voters with questions and concerns can call the toll free election protection hotline, 1-866-OUR-VOTE. The Election Protection voter empowerment program is a coordinated nonpartisan effort to address obstructions of voting rights. Questions can also be directed to the State's Elections Division in Augusta at 624-7650.

Don't think you know enough about the issues? Go online. Internet resources are available at most public libraries, and there is a wealth of information online. Keep an eye on the League of Women Voter's website for more on the candidates and the issues. Voters can find information on ballot initiatives, links to other informative web sites, information on how to find their polling place, candidates in their new electoral districts and much more.

Political Parties & Party Enrollment

Voters do not need to be enrolled in a party to vote in a general election, on any statewide ballot question, or in a municipal election.

Voters who have already registered but have not enrolled in a party may enroll in a party at the polls on Election Day. Voters must be enrolled in a party to vote in that party's primary election or caucus. Any voter who wishes to change party enrollment must do so at least 15 days before the vote.

A voter may change party enrollment at anytime after 3 months from the date on which the voter last enrolled.

Political Party Websites

Information about upcoming elections may also be available at party websites:

Maine Constitution Party

Maine Democratic Party

Maine Green Independent Party

Maine Libertarian Party

Maine Republican Party

Electoral College

In a presidential election year, a vote for the candidate for President is a vote for the presidential electors nominated by the candidate's political party. In Maine, each party's state convention nominates four electors, one from each congressional district and two at large.

After the presidential election, the presidential electors convene to cast their ballots for President and Vice President. In Maine, the electors at large cast their ballots for the candidates who received the largest number of votes in the State overall; and the electors of each congressional district cast their ballots for the candidates who received the largest number of votes in their respective congressional district. (Maine is one of only two states that splits it electors by congressional district. Nebraska is the other.)

The Electoral College consists of a total of 538 electors nationwide (equal to the combined number of U.S. senators and representatives from each state, plus three for the District of Columbia). Candidates for President and Vice President must receive an absolute majority (270) of electoral votes to be elected.

Read more about the Electoral College:

Click here for a State of Maine link on how Maine's Electors are chosen.

Click here for the LWVUS link on how the Electoral College works in modern times, including pro and con arguments.

Click here to read the LWVUS position in favor of a direct popular election of the President.

Click here for the National Archives home page on the Electoral College.

Caucuses

Maine does not use primary elections to nominate party candidates to run for the office of President of the United States. Instead, during a presidential election year, delegates to a party's state convention are chosen based on the results of a municipal caucus and are pledged to support a specific presidential candidate at the state convention. In general, the candidate with the most support in the caucus will have the most committed delegates to state convention. Party rules govern the method of determining which candidates are favored by caucus participants, and the rules for allocating delegates among candidates to be the party's nominee are also determined by the party.

To learn the dates and locations of municipal caucuses in your area, visit your party's web site:

History of Presidential Primaries and Caucuses in Maine

Prior to 1995, Maine had a law allowing qualified political parties the option to hold a Presidential Primary Election after January 1st of the presidential election year. However, the decision process was complex and parties traditionally indicated their preference for presidential candidates at the biennial municipal caucuses. In 1995, the Maine Legislature replaced the Presidential Primary law with a new Presidential Preference Primary law, simplifying the process considerably. In both 1996 and 2000, the major qualified political parties (Democratic and Republican) opted to hold Presidential Preference Primaries. In 2003, the Maine Legislature repealed the Presidential Preference Primary law. Therefore, in 2004 and subsequent election years, the parties will revert to the biennial municipal caucuses to indicate their support for presidential candidates.

Municipal Caucuses

The major political parties hold biennial municipal caucuses. In order to be designated a "qualified party," the party must hold biennial municipal caucuses before March 20 in at least one municipality in 14 of the 16 counties in the State during general election years. At this time, the three qualified parties are the Maine Democratic Party, the Maine Green Independent Party, and the Maine Republican Party. Among the most important purposes of the caucus are the following:

o Electing delegates to the party's state convention
o Electing municipal party officers.

The procedures for conducting the municipal caucus are largely determined by the caucus itself and by party rules. The political party also determines the number of state convention delegates to which a municipality is entitled.

Notice of the municipal caucus is to be published as follows:

o Published in a local newspaper between 3 and 7 days before the caucus
OR
o Posted in a public place in each voting district of the municipality seven days before the caucus.

The chairman or a majority of the members of a municipal committee of the party may call municipal caucuses. If there is no municipal committee in your town, any resident voter enrolled in a party may call a caucus for the purpose of electing the municipal committee and for conducting other business following party rules.

If you have a question about your party's caucus in your municipality, contact state party officials.

State and National Conventions

Each qualified party must hold a state convention between March 1 and August 1 during general election years, that is, every two years in the even-numbered years. Among the most important purposes of the state convention are the following:

o Adopting a platform for the next general election
o Electing state and county officers
o Electing delegates to the national party conventions
o Nominating presidential electors.

Delegates to the national nominating convention are typically chosen based on the results of the caucuses in the state and are pledged to support a specific candidate. Although the party nominee is widely known long before the national convention actually takes place, this is the official mechanism by which a party's presidential and vice presidential candidates are chosen.

Information About Prior Elections

The results of prior elections can be found at this website from the Secretary of State.

Easy-to-Read Voter Guide 2012

Easy-to-Read Voter Guide 2011

Easy-to-Read Voter Guide 2010

Easy-to-Read Voter Guide 2009

Portland Guide 2011