Gov. Janet Mills has postponed Maine’s primary election to mid-July.
Mills signed an executive order Friday moving the date from Tuesday, June 9, to Tuesday, July 14, citing an effort to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
The order also relaxes requirements for absentee voting. Absentee ballot applications normally must be completed within three business days of an election — under the executive order, that deadline has been extended up to and including primary election day.
“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 in a press release issued Friday night. “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 move is designed to give Mainers more access to absentee ballots, which would minimize face-to-face interaction at polling places, and give Dunlap’s office time to develop guidelines for the in-person voting that does take place.
The executive order comes the same week Wisconsin held its statewide primary, an election that became a political football after the state’s Democratic governor sought to delay voting, a move that was overturned by the state’s Supreme Court.