Maine July primary: What to know about Tuesday’s election

Between the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate and the Republican primary for Maine’s Second Congressional District, there is a lot at stake in Tuesday’s Maine primary.The primary, which is typically held in June, was moved to July due to the coronavirus outbreak in the state.COVID-19 IMPACTBecause of the COVID-19 outbreak, Mainers were encouraged to vote by absentee. Many towns reported record demand for absentee ballots compared to past primary elections.The Maine Secretary of State’s Office said Mainers requested nearly 200,000 absentee ballots. That’s five times the number they requested before the busy 2018 primary.However, Mainers planning to vote in-person on Tuesday can expect several changes at the polls.All election officials are required to wear either a face covering and/or a face shield while they are working at the polls. Voters are strongly encouraged to wear face coverings but cannot be turned away from voting for not doing so.Cities and towns must comply with the 50-person gathering limit in the polling place and must maintain 6-foot physical distancing between people. Depending on the size of the voting area and how many check-in tables, voting booths and tabulators will fit within the layout, the maximum capacity may be significantly less than 50 people, election officials said.Voters may also be asked to travel in one direction to complete the voting process.The state said it will supply protective and sanitization equipment for each voting place to protect election workers and voters. The materials will include face coverings and gloves for election workers, antibacterial wipes, hand sanitizer, tabletop protective shields, screen cleaners for the vote tabulators, and ballot marking pens.Tabletop protective shields will be used at voter check-in tables and voter registration tables where 6-foot physical distancing is not practicable to maintain. Learn more about the major races and the candidates below. U.S. SENATE DEMOCRATIC PRIMARYThree Democrats are seeking to challenge incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins for her seat in November. The Senate race is shaping up to be one of the most fiercely contested in the country.The candidates are Maine House Speaker Sara Gideon, attorney Bre Kidman and Betsy Sweet who has worked in Augusta as an advocate through her lobbying firm for four decades.Gideon is considered the front-runner in the race and has the backing of national Democratic leaders.Ranked-choice voting will be used in this election.SECOND CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT GOP PRIMARYThree candidates are vying for the Republican nomination for Maine’s Second Congressional District. The winner will face incumbent Democratic Rep. Jared Golden in November. Republicans are trying to flip the district after Golden defeated incumbent Rep. Bruce Poliquin in 2018.The candidates are Adrienne Bennett, Eric Brakey and Dale Crafts.Bennett, who lives in Bangor, is best known as the press secretary for former Gov. Paul LePage. This is her first run for elected office.Brakey, of Lewiston, served four years in the Maine Senate. He ran against U.S. Sen. Angus King in 2018 and lost.Crafts, of Lisbon, served eight years in the Maine House. He was endorsed by LePage.Ranked-choice voting will be used in this election.STATEWIDE BOND QUESTIONSThere are two bond questions on the statewide ballot. Question 1 asks Mainers whether they want to borrow $15 million to expand and improve broadband access in the state. If approved, the money would be matched by up to $30 million in federal, state, private and local funds.Question 2 asks voters whether they want to approve $105 million for transportation and infrastructure improvements across Maine. They money would be used for highway and bridge construction, as well as other transportation projects. The money would be matched by $275 million in federal and other funds.MAINE LEGISLATURE PRIMARIESThere are several primaries for legislative races in the Maine House and the Maine Senate. In the House, there are 19 Democratic primaries and six Republican primaries. In the Senate, there are six Democratic primaries and three Republican primaries.The entire Legislature is up for election in November.MUNICIPAL ELECTIONSVoters in many Maine communities will be voting on school budgets, which have taken on added importance amid the strains caused by the coronavirus outbreak. Large communities holding school budget votes include Portland, Lewiston, Auburn, South Portland, Biddeford, Saco and Scarborough.Voters in Portland will decide whether to form a Charter Commission, which would examine aspects of how the city’s government is run, including whether to establish public campaign financing for candidates for municipal office.

Between the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate and the Republican primary for Maine’s Second Congressional District, there is a lot at stake in Tuesday’s Maine primary.

The primary, which is typically held in June, was moved to July due to the coronavirus outbreak in the state.

Advertisement

COVID-19 IMPACT

Because of the COVID-19 outbreak, Mainers were encouraged to vote by absentee. Many towns reported record demand for absentee ballots compared to past primary elections.

The Maine Secretary of State’s Office said Mainers requested nearly 200,000 absentee ballots. That’s five times the number they requested before the busy 2018 primary.

However, Mainers planning to vote in-person on Tuesday can expect several changes at the polls.

All election officials are required to wear either a face covering and/or a face shield while they are working at the polls.

Voters are strongly encouraged to wear face coverings but cannot be turned away from voting for not doing so.

Cities and towns must comply with the 50-person gathering limit in the polling place and must maintain 6-foot physical distancing between people.

Depending on the size of the voting area and how many check-in tables, voting booths and tabulators will fit within the layout, the maximum capacity may be significantly less than 50 people, election officials said.

Voters may also be asked to travel in one direction to complete the voting process.

The state said it will supply protective and sanitization equipment for each voting place to protect election workers and voters.

The materials will include face coverings and gloves for election workers, antibacterial wipes, hand sanitizer, tabletop protective shields, screen cleaners for the vote tabulators, and ballot marking pens.

Tabletop protective shields will be used at voter check-in tables and voter registration tables where 6-foot physical distancing is not practicable to maintain.

Learn more about the major races and the candidates below.

U.S. SENATE DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY

WMTW-TV

Three Democrats are seeking to challenge incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins for her seat in November. The Senate race is shaping up to be one of the most fiercely contested in the country.

The candidates are Maine House Speaker Sara Gideon, attorney Bre Kidman and Betsy Sweet who has worked in Augusta as an advocate through her lobbying firm for four decades.

Gideon is considered the front-runner in the race and has the backing of national Democratic leaders.

Ranked-choice voting will be used in this election.

SECOND CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT GOP PRIMARY

WMTW-TV


Three candidates are vying for the Republican nomination for Maine’s Second Congressional District. The winner will face incumbent Democratic Rep. Jared Golden in November. Republicans are trying to flip the district after Golden defeated incumbent Rep. Bruce Poliquin in 2018.

The candidates are Adrienne Bennett, Eric Brakey and Dale Crafts.

Bennett, who lives in Bangor, is best known as the press secretary for former Gov. Paul LePage. This is her first run for elected office.

Brakey, of Lewiston, served four years in the Maine Senate. He ran against U.S. Sen. Angus King in 2018 and lost.

Crafts, of Lisbon, served eight years in the Maine House. He was endorsed by LePage.

Ranked-choice voting will be used in this election.

STATEWIDE BOND QUESTIONS

WMTW-TV


There are two bond questions on the statewide ballot. Question 1 asks Mainers whether they want to borrow $15 million to expand and improve broadband access in the state. If approved, the money would be matched by up to $30 million in federal, state, private and local funds.

Question 2 asks voters whether they want to approve $105 million for transportation and infrastructure improvements across Maine. They money would be used for highway and bridge construction, as well as other transportation projects. The money would be matched by $275 million in federal and other funds.

MAINE LEGISLATURE PRIMARIES

There are several primaries for legislative races in the Maine House and the Maine Senate. In the House, there are 19 Democratic primaries and six Republican primaries. In the Senate, there are six Democratic primaries and three Republican primaries.

The entire Legislature is up for election in November.

MUNICIPAL ELECTIONS

Voters in many Maine communities will be voting on school budgets, which have taken on added importance amid the strains caused by the coronavirus outbreak. Large communities holding school budget votes include Portland, Lewiston, Auburn, South Portland, Biddeford, Saco and Scarborough.

Voters in Portland will decide whether to form a Charter Commission, which would examine aspects of how the city’s government is run, including whether to establish public campaign financing for candidates for municipal office.