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Absentee voting begins for Maine's first semi-open local primaries

Election clerks Pauline Plourde, left, and Susan Gallant process absentee ballots for the 2020 primary election in Lewiston, Maine.
Robert F. Bukaty/AP
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AP
Election clerks Pauline Plourde, left, and Susan Gallant process absentee ballots for the 2020 primary election in Lewiston, Maine.

Mainers can now start voting absentee for next month’s primary elections. These are the first local elections using semi-open primaries, where voters who are not enrolled in a specific party can cast a ballot in the primary of their choice.

The June primary on June 11 features over 300 important local and federal races, including all seats in the Maine House and Senate, as well as both of Maine’s representatives in Congress. No-excuse absentee voting in Maine allows voters to submit absentee ballots starting 30 days before election.

While the November general election typically sees higher turnout, Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows said the primaries are equally important.

"People may discount the state level primary in June at their peril," said Bellows. "The consequences of the primary determine who the candidates are in November, and also in some of the districts may actually determine who ends up serving in the legislature."

Maine first implemented the semi-open primary format in the Presidential primary election in March. While the election went smoothly according to Secretary Bellows, she advises voters to check and confirm their party registration soon.

"We did see some confusion in the presidential primary in March — where voters thought that they were unenrolled, but they had registered for another political party in the past year," said Bellows. "So we are encouraging voters to check their party registration. Now [voters in Maine] have plenty of time to do it this month [and] check and make sure."

Mainers have until Memorial Day to change their party affiliation. The Secretary of State’s office has so far received just over 2,500 ballot requests from voters for the upcoming primary.

Nick Song is Maine Public's inaugural Emerging Voices Fellowship Reporter.


Originally from Southern California, Nick got his start in radio when he served as the programming director for his high school's radio station. He graduated with a degree in Journalism and History from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University -- where he was Co-News Director for WNUR 89.3 FM, the campus station.