"How will Pandemic Prevention Measures Affect My In-Person Voting Experience?”

Group gatherings such as elections bring people from multiple households into close contact with each other and have the potential to increase COVID-19 transmission. The primary tools to control the spread of COVID-19 are to reduce exposure to respiratory droplets through physical distancing and face coverings, increase hand hygiene, and avoid shared items and common touch surfaces. The goal of this guidance, developed in consultation between the Secretary of State and Maine CDC, is to protect voters, poll workers, and the local community from COVID-19 infection.

Polling places for the General Election will be open on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020 for in-person voting. Voters should allow additional time to complete the voting process, as wait times are expected to be longer than usual due to capacity limits, social distancing and sanitization measures in place at your polling site.

Before you go to vote, please doublecheck that your polling place has not changed, as the provisions in place for this election allow polling place changes up to 10 days prior to Election Day. You can check your polling place by using the Voter Information Lookup Service, checking your town website or calling your municipal clerk’s office.

The Maine Department of the Secretary of State, in coordination with the Maine Centers for Disease Control, has issued guidance to all municipal clerks regarding pandemic prevention measures and the State will supply protective and sanitization equipment for each voting place, to protect election workers and voters. These materials will include face coverings and face shields 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 in use at the Incoming Voter List check-in tables and/or voter registration tables where 6-foot physical distancing is not practicable to maintain. When you check in, you will receive a pen with your ballots. When you have completed voting, you will be asked to drop your pen into a collection box for sanitation. Sanitized pens will be returned to the check-in tables for re-use.

All election officials will be required to wear a cloth face covering (either their own or the one provided by the State) and may also wear a face shield while they are working at the polls. Election officials are not required to wear gloves, except if tasked with cleaning voting booths, tables, and other surfaces in the voting place; instead, workers are encouraged to practice good hand hygiene.

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

The layout of your polling place will look different this year due to social distancing measures.  Municipalities must comply with the current 50-person gathering limit in each separate area of the polling place and must maintain the 6-foot physical distance between persons. 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.

The capacity limit includes both election officials and voters; and the gathering limit applies to each separate area of the voting building (e.g., the room where voting takes place, separate hallways where voters may be waiting in line, separate room where absentee ballots are being processed by the clerk, etc.) Voters should plan for the possibility that they may have to wait in line outdoors.

Each check-in line must be kept 6 feet from the next line, and each person or family group in line must be 6 feet from the next person/group. Voters will see these distance measures marked off for reference. Voting booths may be spaced further apart than usual, or some may not be in use, to maintain distancing.

Additionally, voters may be asked to travel in one direction (in one door and out another) to complete the voting process.

Note: As always, every voting place must have the Accessible Voting System (ExpressVote) set up on the table provided by the State and use the 3-sided privacy screen to provide privacy to the voter. Screen wipes will be provided to allow election workers to clean the unit after each use.

Clerks must designate space for pollwatchers from each political party (Democratic, Green Independent and Republican) outside the guardrail and near the check-in tables, ensuring 6 feet of physical distance between each pollwatcher and voters or election officials. Pollwatchers must always wear cloth face coverings, covering the nose and mouth, while in the voting place.

Candidates may stand and greet voters from a distance outside the polling place but must remain at least 6 feet from queued or passing voters and 6 feet from each other. Candidates must wear cloth face coverings and should avoid touching or shaking hands with the voters.

Petitioners may be located outside the building, near where voters are exiting the voting place. Petitioners must remain at least 6 feet from queued or passing voters and 6 feet from each other. They must not allow voters to congregate around the petition table and must ask waiting signers to maintain the 6-foot distance. Petitioners must wear cloth face coverings and are responsible for sanitation of their petition table, pens and other materials.

Secretary Dunlap is encouraging all voters to consider voting by absentee ballot, to minimize exposure for election workers and other voters. Those who choose to vote in-person are asked to adhere to the guidelines and procedures at their polling place to ensure that all Maine voters can cast their ballots safely and efficiently.

If you have any questions about voting in the Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020 General Election, please call or email us at sos.office@maine.gov or 626-8400.