MIDCOAST — Area registrars and town clerks are reporting a noticeable uptick in absentee ballot requests prior to this year’s November 6 election than the previous gubernatorial year in 2014.
For many, Thursday, Nov. 1 is the final day to request an absentee ballot, and so far this year, the ballot requests have increased in municipalities regardless of population or location.
“Last year’s election was an off-year election with only state referendum questions,” said Rockland City Clerk Stuart Sylvester. “You have to compare like elections: Presidential to Presidential or Gubernatorial to Gubernatorial. Voter interest depends greatly on what (or who) is on the ballot.”
Camden has received 1,122 requests for absentee ballots. Last year, the Town received 358 requests, and 924 in 2014.
The comments that Camden Town Clerk Katrina Oakes has heard, “are mostly that it is ‘just easier’ and ‘There are so many ballots (issues), I need to do my research.’”
Thomaston had received 230 absentee ballot requests by Oct. 30, as compared to 205 ballots in 2014.
The Town of Lincolnville received 297 absentee ballot requests for the 2014 General Election; for this November 6, General Election they’ve received a total of 382 and anticipate receiving more requests within the next few days, according to Karen S. Secotte, Lincolnville deputy town clerk and registrar of voters..
As of October 29, Waldoboro has issued 718 absentee ballots for the 2018 election versus the 2014 election when the town issued 730. But, for Waldoboro residents, it’s not about the candidates, according to Waldoboro Town Clerk Eileen F. Dondlinger.
“People are saying they won't have to stand in lines,” Dondlinger said. “Some don't like to feel rushed in a booth with the lines behind them waiting, and for others, doing their ballot at home with a cup of tea and taking their time appeals to them.”
In Rockland, on the other hand, absentee voting requests are about 50 less than in 2014.
And, for some municipalities, the 2016 presidential election still prompted more absentees.
This year, Kathleen Macy, of North Haven, has processed 48 absentee ballots. In 2017, she processed 21 absentee, and in 2016, she processed 82.
“So twice as many as last year, but nowhere close to 2016,” she said.
Voters may obtain an absentee ballot after November 1 by completing a special circumstances application, stating one of four allowable reasons for requesting an absentee ballot.
The four reasons are:
1) An unexpected absence from the municipality during the entire time the polls are open on election day;
2) A physical disability,
3) An inability to travel to the polls because the voter is a resident of a coastal island ward or precinct; or
4) An incapacity or illness that has resulted in the voter being unable to leave home or a treatment facility.
The special circumstances application must be signed by the voter.
The application can be obtained from the municipal clerk or from the Secretary of State.
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