A Smooth But Unusual Primary For Maine

Tuesday, July 14, 2020
LWVME Press Release

[PORTLAND, ME] – After the June primary was postponed until July 14th due to the spread of COVID-19, town clerks and people serving on the frontlines went to work. It appears to have paid off.

Preparation was key to helping this election day sun smoothly. A record number of voters used Maine’s tried and true no-excuse absentee balloting to vote safely from home. A few voters still wanted or needed to vote in person, but lines were short, and sometimes there were no lines at all. Voters mostly came prepared with face masks. Queues with 6-foot markers helped voters to properly social distance. Poll workers were provided with plenty of PPE, along
with other protective equipment, including plexiglass shields, hand sanitizer, and single use pens.

Town Clerks have reported more votes cast via absentee than usual. As of yesterday afternoon, over 203,000 absentee ballots had been issued. This total is higher than the 2018 general election. Over 75% of those issued this year had been returned. The League of Women Voters continues to monitor and collect reports on this election in various Maine towns. Overall, it is clear that preparation worked, and without the diligent efforts of election officials and poll workers, this primary could have been different.

However, it also affirms that the League’s concerns, presented to Governor Mills back in May, were fundamental. Encouraging eligible voters to vote absentee and providing safe polling locations are vital in order to preserve election accessibility and public health in the COVID era.

“Maine has risen to the challenge of holding an election during a pandemic,” said Anna Kellar, the Executive Director of the League of Women Voters of Maine. “The League and our partners are ready to help town and state officials to build on this success, including learnIng from the scattered problems that did occur, and scale up efforts for November.”

For the general election, Maine will need greater protection and preparation. The League will continue to encourage voters to request an absentee ballot for November.