AUGUSTA — Governor Janet Mills signed April 10 an Executive Order moving Maine’s primary election from Tuesday, June 9 to Tuesday, July 14.
The Order, which is effective immediately, allows applications for absentee ballots to be made in writing or in person, without specifying a reason, up to and including the day of the election, according to a news release.
It also extends the deadline for qualifying contributions under the Maine Clean Election Act to May 19.
The delay in the primary election will provide additional time for Maine people to request absentee ballots in order to minimize in-person interaction at the polls and will allow the Secretary of State’s Office additional time to develop guidelines to help municipalities conduct in-person voting in as safe a manner as possible, per the release.
“A person’s right to vote is the foundation of our democracy, and I take seriously government’s responsibility to ensure that every Maine person has the opportunity to have their voice heard and to do so in a way that protects their health and safety during this unprecedented pandemic,” said Governor Mills. “This postponement will provide Maine people with more time to request an absentee ballot and will allow the Secretary of State’s Office to work with municipalities to ensure that in-person voting can be done in as safe a way as possible. I recognize the ramifications this has both for voters and those running for office this year, and I appreciate their flexibility as we work to protect our elections and the health of our people.”
“The action taken by the Governor gives assurance to all Maine voters that the primary and referendum election will be available for every qualified citizen who wishes to participate,” said Secretary of State Matt Dunlap. “Even in this time of civil emergency, our democracy will be our guide for the decisions of the future, and the Governor’s actions here will further ensure the legitimacy of our unique form of self-governance.”
The Executive Order allows applications for absentee ballots may be made in writing or in person up to and including the day of the election in order to allow voters to obtain an absentee ballot and return it prior to the closure of the polls on July 14.
Absentee ballots issued more than three months before June 9 remain valid for use in the July 14 election.
The Order also extends the Maine Clean Election Act submission deadline for qualifying contributions to 5 p.m. on May 19 instead of April 21.
To become eligible for Clean Elections funding, candidates must collect a minimum number of checks or money orders of $5, according to the release.
Governor Mills’ Stay Healthy at Home Order effectively prevents candidates for public office from traveling door to door to collect such contributions.
Candidates can and should obtain these contributions online, the release said.