Monday, May 13

State Primary Day 2024 – Four weeks away

AUGUSTA — With less than a month until the State Primary, June 11, 2024, Secretary of State Shenna Bellows and Deputy Secretary of State for Corporations, Elections and Commissions Julie Flynn want to provide an update to the public about Maine’s election processes for this stage of the election cycle. Further in-depth explainers will be provided for Election Day and post-election procedures.

“Election workers up and down the state are hard at work now so that voters will have the same safe, secure and fair elections they always have,” said Secretary Bellows. “Starting today with no-excuse absentee voting, voters have the opportunity to make their voice heard on which candidates they want to see on the ballot in November, and I encourage them to turn out.”

“Right now the state Election Division staff and the hardworking clerks and staff in our communities are busy with all kinds of pre-election preparations and conducting absentee voting,” said Deputy Secretary Flynn. “Voters can assist them now and through Election Day as poll workers by signing up with their municipality.”

Poll workers

Poll workers are needed at all stages of the election process. Mainers who are registered to vote, even if 16 or 17 years old and not able to yet cast a ballot, may serve as poll workers in municipalities in their county of residence. Poll workers may be paid, as determined by each municipality.

Poll workers must be in equal numbers from the Democratic and Republican parties, or off by one at most, and poll workers from these parties must make up at least half of the total number of poll workers. The remaining poll workers may be enrolled in other parties, or unenrolled. If there are not enough poll workers from the major parties, the clerk may select additional poll workers from the minor parties or unenrolleds. Mainers who are a candidate or a member of a candidate’s immediate family may not serve as poll workers.

Training for poll workers is provided by municipal clerks and their staff, and tasks will vary as needed. Mainers interested in serving as poll workers should contact their municipal office. More information is available at

Semi-open primaries

Maine’s 2024 primaries will be held under the new semi-open primary law. Unenrolled voters now have the option to vote in any party primary without having to enroll in the party. Unenrolled voters may only vote in one party’s primary.

Voters enrolled in a party must vote that party’s primary ballot. Enrolled voters do not have the option to select another party’s ballot unless they change enrollment at least 15 days prior to the primary. For this election, that date is May 27. However, since May 27 is Memorial Day, and most municipal offices are closed on weekends (and many on Fridays) the last day that most voters can change from one party to another and still participate in the State Primaries will be May 23 or 24. When voters enroll in a new party they may not change their party enrollment for 3 months, unless they move to a new municipality and establish a new voting residence there.

There are currently five Qualified Parties in Maine: Democratic, Green Independent, Libertarian, No Labels and Republican. Not all parties have candidates in every voting district. If there are no candidates in a specific party at any level for a given voting district, there will not be a ballot available.

Voters who believe they may have signed a petition recently regarding party ballot access are encouraged to check on their party enrollment status with their municipal clerk.

Who is on the ballot

Sample ballots are available through the Maine Voter Information Lookup Service: Full candidate lists are available at

Should any candidates withdraw or be found, at this point, to be disqualified from the ballot, or pass away, the Department would notify municipal clerks, and notice would be sent with absentee ballots, posted at voting sites, and posted on the Secretary’s website.

Ranked-choice voting

Races with at least three candidates will be conducted as ranked-choice races. Those are the Democratic races for State Representative District 118 (part of Portland) and District 123 (part of Cape Elizabeth). All other races have two or fewer candidates, including declared write-ins, and will be conducted as plurality races.

Should any candidate in a ranked-choice race not receive more than 50% of the Election Night counting, a ranked-choice tabulation will be conducted in Augusta in the days following Election Day. Only first choices will be reported by the municipalities on Election Night.

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 will be 18 years old on or before November 5, 2024 may vote in the State Primary 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 their 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 Election Day. Online voter registration at is available through Tuesday, May 21 (21 days before Election Day). Registrations done by mail need to be received by the municipal clerk of the voter by that date as well. Automatic voter registration during Bureau of Motor Vehicle transactions is available through Tuesday, June 4 (7 days before Election Day). After those deadlines, registrations must be done in person at the voter’s municipality. All forms of registration will be available again on June 12 through the same deadlines in October.

Absentee voting

In-person absentee voting begins in towns and cities around the state within the next week. State law requires that absentee ballots be available at least 30 days before an election, but if a municipality received ballots before that deadline, clerks may have mailed ballots earlier and made them available at town and city halls for in-person absentee voting.

Maine’s no-excuse absentee voting law means that any Maine voter may choose to vote absentee, whether in person at their town or city hall, or at home. No-excuse absentee voting continues through the Thursday before an election; this year that is Thursday, June 6. Hours for in-person absentee voting at a town or city hall are set by each municipality. Many offer extended hours, particularly in the last days of no excuse absentee voting, but state law does not require this. After June 6, when certain special circumstances exist, for example, an unexpected hospitalization, a voter may still vote absentee.

Absentee ballots, including accessible ballots and ballots for uniformed and overseas voters, may be requested via the state’s online portal. Voters may also call their town or city hall to request a ballot, go in person to their town or city hall, or submit a paper application for an absentee ballot. Some third-party groups and campaigns send out the paper application to voters, and this is legal. Voters, however, need only submit one application for an absentee ballot, duplicates will be noted but not fulfilled.

Once a ballot request is submitted, Maine voters can track the process of that request and their ballot at: Voters who need a replacement ballot should contact their municipal clerk.

In many towns and cities, voters will have the option of returning an absentee ballot to a secured drop box. Absentee ballot drop boxes must be monitored periodically, secured to the ground or building, and the interior only accessible by the town or city clerk and their staff. Ballots must be retrieved periodically and in teams of two.

The Elections Division will post up-to-date absentee voter data on Tuesday and Friday afternoons through the rest of May, and then in June the data will be posted each weekday afternoon at

Upon receipt of an absentee ballot, a municipal clerk will examine the signature of the voter on the absentee ballot envelope and on any affidavit and witness certification on the envelope and may compare it to the signature on their voter registration file. If the ballot requires curing – the required information is not present or the signatures do not match – the clerk shall contact the voter within a day, or on the day before or the day of the election, make a good faith effort to contact the voter. The outcome of the clerk’s inspection of the envelope is noted in the tracker, and a voter can see if their ballot has been accepted or rejected. If a voter’s ballot is rejected, they would be able to cast a different ballot by 8:00 p.m. on Election Day.

Ongoing absentee voting

Voters who will be at least 65 years of age by the next election or who self-identify as having a disability may apply for ongoing absentee voter status. A voter who qualifies will automatically receive an absentee ballot for each statewide election, municipal election and any other election for which the voter is eligible to vote and need not submit a request for each election. Application forms are available on the Secretary of State’s website.

Voters with print disabilities

For voters with print disabilities, an accessible ballot is available to request at Voters must self-certify that they are blind or otherwise disabled, and that their disability prevents or substantially limits them from being able to privately and independently complete a paper absentee ballot. This option is available to ensure that all voters are able to cast their vote while maintaining their right to a secret ballot.

For in-person voting, voters with print disabilities (or anyone who chooses to use it) each polling place has an accessible voting system available for use.

Uniformed and overseas voters

Uniformed and overseas voters (UOCAVA voters) began receiving ballots 45 days prior to Election Day, in accordance with federal law. These voters include spouses and dependents away from their Maine voting residence by reason of active duty or service of the member, and U.S. citizens currently living outside the U.S. and whose residence before leaving the U.S. was in Maine. The longer period for UOCAVA voters to receive their ballots is to ensure that they are able to cast their ballot as other Mainers can, regardless of how accessible where they are living is.

Absentee ballot processing

Absentee ballots may be processed up to seven days before Election Day, with notice provided to the Secretary of State 30 days before Election Day. A list of municipalities which may process ballots early will available at at least one week prior to the start of early processing. Absentee ballot processing is a public process which may be observed by partisan and nonpartisan observers.

Early processing may happen between the hours of 7 a.m. and 9 p.m., except when an inspection is requested. At such times, processing may not begin until the inspection period has concluded. Requests for inspection of absentee ballot applications and envelopes must be submitted in writing by 4 p.m. the day before each day of early processing. If such a request is made, the ballot applications and envelopes will be available an hour before early processing is set to begin.

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 ballots unfolded and placed into the tabulator or ballot box. 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.

Many municipalities will conduct absentee ballot processing on Election Day itself, under the same procedures.