AUGUSTA — General Election Day 2022 is tomorrow, Tuesday, Nov. 8. Polls will be open in municipalities around the state starting between 6 and 10 a.m., depending on the size of the municipality, and will be open until 8 p.m.

“Election preparations and absentee voting around the state have been smooth and steady,” Secretary of State Shenna Bellows said in a press release issued by her office. “We’re looking forward to another election with strong turnout as Mainers make their voices heard at the ballot box.”

Already, 205,251 Maine voters have had their absentee ballots received and accepted by their municipal clerks, as of Friday afternoon, according to the press release, and 249,865 Mainers have requested absentee ballots. Thursday, Nov. 3, was the last day of no-excuse absentee voting. After Nov. 3, when certain special circumstances exist, for example, an unexpected hospitalization, a voter may still vote absentee.

Absentee ballots must be received by a municipality by 8 p.m. on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 8, to be counted. That means voters who have not yet returned their absentee ballots should do so using an absentee ballot drop box in their municipality or in person to their municipal clerk by 8 p.m. Tuesday. Voters can track the progress of their absentee ballots at https://apps.web.maine.gov/cgi-bin/online/AbsenteeBallot/ballot_status.pl.

Voter registration

To register to vote in Maine, voters must be Maine residents, U.S. citizens, and at least 16 years old, though only Mainers who are 18 years old on or before Nov. 8 may vote in the general election. When registering for the first time, voters must provide proof of residency and identity. Current or former incarceration status does not disqualify any Mainer from registering to vote or casting a ballot. Incarcerated persons at a correctional facility or county jail may register to vote in the Maine municipality where they established residency prior to incarceration.

Maine has same day voter registration, meaning that Mainers may register to vote and cast their ballot on the same day, even on Election Day. Registrations completed today and tomorrow must be done in person at the voter’s municipality.

Absentee ballot processing

Absentee ballots may be processed up to seven days before Election Day, with notice. A list of municipalities that may process ballots early is available at maine.gov/sos/cec/elec/upcoming/index.html. Absentee ballot processing is a public process that may be observed by partisan and nonpartisan observers.

Early processing may happen between the hours of 9 a.m. and 9 p.m., except when an inspection is requested. At such times, processing may not begin until the one hour inspection period has concluded. Requests for inspection of absentee ballot applications and envelopes must be submitted in writing by 9 a.m. on each day of early processing.

During absentee ballot processing, teams of two work in stages. First, the absentee voter list is marked, then the ballots and envelopes separated, and only when a sufficient quantity of ballots has amassed, are the folded hand-count ballots placed in the ballot box or the tabulator-counted ballots unfolded and placed into the tabulator. Ballots and envelopes are kept secure after each day of early processing. Absentee ballots are not counted until after 8 p.m. on Election Day, just as all other ballots are counted.

Many municipalities will conduct absentee ballot processing on Election Day itself, under the same procedures, though processing may be at different times throughout the day, or after polls close, depending on the municipality.

Vote counting and results reporting

At 8 p.m. (or when the last voters in line by 8 p.m. have cast their ballots, whichever is later), polls will close at each polling place. Counting ballots, whether by hand or with the use of tabulators, will commence at this time. No votes are counted in Maine before polls close.

When all ballots at a polling place have been counted, the warden will announce the results and may contact campaigns and news outlets that have requested the results. The only results available on Tuesday night and the days following will be from municipalities. Municipalities have Wednesday and Thursday to submit official results to the secretary of state, which then begins post-election reviews to ensure accuracy before announcing certified results. The secretary of state will only announce certified results, and by law the department has 20 days to compile those results.

Ranked-choice voting tabulations

The only races being conducted using ranked-choice voting in this general election are Maine’s two congressional districts. In either race, should no candidate receive a majority of votes on election night, ballots will be taken to Augusta for a ranked-choice voting tabulation. Ranked-choice tabulations are conducted under the oversight of the secretary of state as open, public processes with representatives of the involved campaigns present.

In observance of Veterans Day, which is Friday, Nov. 11, no ranked-choice tabulations will be run that day. While a firm date for tabulations has not yet been set, it is anticipated that tabulations would happen next week, according to the press release. A schedule for any necessary tabulations will be sent at a later date.

Recounts

There are no mandatory recounts in Maine election law; however, in very close races — 1% or less apparent margin of victory for statewide or multi-county races or 1.5% or less apparent margin of victory for legislative races or single county races — no deposit is required. A deposit from the requesting candidate is required for races with larger margins of victory, increasing as the margin gets wider. The deposit is returned if the apparent result is overturned.

The deadline for candidates in plurality races to request a recount is five business days after Election Day, which is Wednesday, Nov. 16, this year. For races that require ranked-choice tabulation, candidates have until five days after the secretary of state completes the tabulation and announces the tabulation results.

Recounts will be conducted in Augusta under the oversight of the secretary of state. Recounts are conducted as open, public processes with representatives of the involved campaigns present. A schedule for recounts will be issued at a later date.

 

 

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