Governor Mills: Your vote is your voice. Make sure your voice is heard November 3rd.

October 23, 2020

Voting is at the foundation of our democracy and voting may determine the future of our communities, our state and our nation.

Hello, this is Governor Janet Mills.

Your vote is your voice. Make sure your voice is heard November 3rd.

I usually vote in person on Election Day cause I like to see people at the polls, but this year, I voted absentee in person in the town clerk’s office cause I wanted to minimize the number of people I came into contact with and minimize the number of people at the polls on November 3rd. Voting absentee, either in-person or by mail, during this pandemic minimizes your exposure to COVID-19 and protects the health of poll workers, other voters and the community at large.

We did a pretty good job in the primary in July minimizing the people at the polls and encouraging absentee voting, but the General Election attracts far more voters, and we are stepping up efforts to protect poll workers and preserving the right of everyone to vote.

Right now you can stop by your town office during business hours, pick up a ballot and complete it right there and hand it back to the clerk. You don’t need an excuse. Some clerks offices are open extra hours – evenings, weekends, even the Saturday before the election -- to accept ballots and avoid overcrowded polls on Election Day.

You can also request an absentee ballot by mail on the Secretary of State’s website at Maine.gov/sos. And you can either mail that ballot back or deliver it in person to the clerk’s office or to a drop box.

But don’t wait. Either way, your ballot has to be in the clerk’s hands by 8 pm November 3rd.

Now, if you have requested an absentee ballot, you have committed to vote that ballot. The clerk won’t give you a second ballot unless you have somehow spoiled the ballot and you return it, or the ballot you requested does not arrive.

You can also track when your ballot is sent out and when your clerk receives your completed ballot by visiting Maine.gov/sos and clicking on the “Request/Track your absentee ballot” image.

Get your ballot back to your municipal clerk as soon as possible, and no later than 8:00 p.m. on Election Day, November 3, 2020, in the signed, sealed envelope. Very important.

Remember, to SIGN the envelope before returning because that’s how the clerk knows it’s the same ballot they sent you to send back.

If you are returning your ballot in person, you can drop it off at your town office during regular business hours.

We also worked to provide secure drop boxes to many many towns to facilitate safe voting. If your municipality has a ballot dropbox, you’ll find it at the city or town hall. Drop off your completed ballot - sealed in your signed envelope - at any hour, and of course ONLY in your own town or city’s ballot dropbox. You have to sign the envelope so the clerk knows it was you who requested the ballot; but neither the clerk nor anyone else will see who you voted for.

If you are returning your ballot by mail, use first-class stamps and put it in the mail at least a week before Election Day to make sure it gets there on time.

If you are going out of state, get your ballot back before you leave; if you mail it from somewhere across the country you take a chance it won’t be counted.

Polling places will be open on Election Day, but plan for extra wait time if you go that day because of new health and safety procedures at the polls, you know social distancing and sanitization measures.

Please wear a face covering when you go to the polls to vote and avoid face coverings or other clothing or accessories that have a political message or the name of a candidate on them.

To learn more about elections, visit the Secretary of State’s website at Maine.gov/sos.

You know, there’s been some talk also about potential harassment or intimidation of voters in other states we’ve listened to. We don’t expect a problem with that here and we do have plenty of tools to address it if it does occur.

Just remember, you have a constitutional right to vote. No one can prevent you. It’s your civic right and your civic responsibility.

This is Governor Janet Mills, thank you for listening, don’t forget to vote, and please stay safe.