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Maine

Maine made great progress improving its voting system in 2021. There are still many opportunities Maine has to continue to strengthen its election system. Chief among these are by expanding its new permanent absentee voter list and improving its cure process. These improvements will bring Maine one step closer to a more safe, efficient, and voter-friendly election process. As always, while policy is important, effective implementation is just as important.

As of 2021....

No Excuse Required

No Excuse Required

No excuse to vote by mail

Online Mail Ballot Application

Online Mail Ballot Application

Apply for mail ballot online

Robust Ballot Return Option

Robust Ballot Return Option

U.S. mail, drop boxes, vote centers, and more

Prepaid Postage

Prepaid Postage

Postage-paid return envelopes provided

Election Day Postmark Acceptance

Election Day Postmark Acceptance

Accepts ballots postmarked by Election Day

Ballot Tracking

Ballot Tracking

Online method to check ballot status

Signature Verification

Signature Verification

Voter signature verified before ballot is counted

Cure Process

Cure Process

Ability to correct issues so ballot can be counted

Preprocessing

Preprocessing

Election official may process ballot before Election Day

Opportunities

Maine can reduce costs and increase voter convenience by creating a permanent absentee voting list, on which all voters can sign up to automatically be sent an absentee ballot for each election without having to re-apply. States experience significant savings by cutting down on the requests they need to process, saving an average of $1 per application.
We highly recommend creating vote centers, or polling locations where any voter in the county can vote. This is a way to streamline the system so over time, as the share of the vote cast by mail increases, counties can have fewer overall polling locations, while individual voters will have more voting location options. Additionally, we recommend including provisions to allow for ballots to be received at polling and vote centers, as well as other locations deemed necessary by the clerk, as a low cost way to increase return options.
Accepting ballots with Election Day postmarks shortly after Election Day is a best practice to ensure that voters are given all options to vote their ballot in a timely manner, as it is estimated in most jurisdictions to decrease ballot rejection rates by half. We recommend that, not only does a state allow the physical postmark on a ballot, but also that it integrate into the USPS system for electronic postmarks to serve as validation that a ballot was mailed on time.
Simplifying the return process for a ballot is just as important as simplifying the request process. Prepaying postage on ballot return envelopes can increase return rates by ensuring that voters do not need to make an extra trip to the post office.
Voters should have sufficient time to correct any issues with their ballot In the event that a voter’s ballot is rejected. Maine’s current cure deadline of one day before election days leaves many voters behind. We recommend allowing voters to cure any issues for 5 days after the election.

Recent Legislation

As of October 21, 2021

In August 2020, Governor Mills issued EO 8 (FY 20/21), which, among other reforms, made temporary adjustments to the State’s vote by mail system for the November general election in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Order permitted absentee ballot processing to begin seven days pre-Election Day, suspended the requirement that municipal clerks facilitate absentee voting in certain licensed facilities, and allowed no-excuse absentee voting until 5 PM on the second business day pre-Election Day.

In its 2021 legislative session, the Maine Legislature passed LD 102, which codified the formerly temporary provision that permitted absentee ballot processing to begin seven days before Election Day, and LD 1126 to create an online voter registration system. LD 1363 codified into law the state’s cure process, the statewide ballot tracking system, and the option for municipalities to establish drop boxes. LD 1274 gave municipalities more flexibility in scheduling elections in response to COVID and LD 1126 allows voters to register online. LD 148, which passed both houses and will be carried over to the next session, would create a permanent absentee list for seniors and disabled voters. Additionally, the state joined ERIC in late 2021 to improve its data integrity. Not all is sunshine and roses, however: LD 580, which proposed a constitutional amendment to allow early voting, failed.