BELFAST — A video featuring the Belfast City Clerk addresses a number of concerns and questions regarding absentee voting and the upcoming Nov. 3 election, in general.
The video, titled 2020 Belfast Voter Information, is featured on Belfast Community Media’s Vimeo page and also on the City of Belfast’s page.
Running just under six minutes, the video provides Belfast (and other) voters with important information about the upcoming election and features Belfast City Clerk Amy Flood.
“I’m here to talk a little bit about elections and give you guys some information for this upcoming November election,” Flood advises viewers at the start of the video.
Absentee voting is the feature topic Flood addresses, saying that the City has already received requests for absentee ballots, which can be mailed within 90 days of election day.
Citizens can request an absentee ballot at the Belfast City Clerk’s Office, which is located on 131 Church Street and open Monday through Thursday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Other ways to request an absentee ballot include using Maine’s government site, at maine.gov/portal. Interested parties can also reach the government site by searching for ‘absentee voting in Maine.’
The government page is the first non-ad result that will come up. A link to the official government page is also featured on the City Website on the City Clerk’s page under Voting Information.
Requests for absentee ballots can also be made by calling the Belfast City Clerk’s Office at 207-338-3370, extension two. During the call, a city clerk will take your information and compare it to information already on file to ensure everything matches.
“[We] make sure that it’s you, and then we make that request,” Flood said during the video.
Though the process for requesting an absentee ballot is allowed for 90 days prior to the Nov. 3 election, the ballots themselves are not received until 30 days prior to election day.
“That has nothing to do with postal mail, or this being a presidential [election]... that happens with every election, we do not receive the ballots until 30 days prior. Once the ballots are received by the City they will be mailed out to voters and also be available at the City Clerk’s office.
Once a ballot is in hand, voters can vote while at the office, where a ballot box will be set up, or ballots can be returned by mail.
“The process that happens with absentee voting is when you request we put all of our data into a central voter registration system, and this tracks every person who has requested a ballot, every person that’s returned a ballot,” Flood said.
For those who may have second thoughts about absentee voting and decide they would prefer to go to the polls come election day, Flood said they are certainly welcome to do so.
“When we print off the incoming voter list it will not show that you have already voted, and you can certainly go into the polls,” she said.
Come November 3, Belfast polls will open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m.
Several polling locations will be used in Belfast, with wards one and two asked to vote at the Belfast Boathouse, while wards three and four will be at the Crosby Center, and ward five will be at the Belfast Methodist Church.
Information about which parts of Belfast are covered by each ward is available on the video, as well as via a map available on the City website. Sandwich boards with the different wards designated will also be put out on election day.
Belfast residents can also call the Clerk’s Office to ask which ward they belong to, though Flood asks that anyone using this method do so prior to election day. There will also be clerks working to ensure that everyone is voting in the proper location.
“[We’re] hoping the Covid-19 restrictions, distancing, spacing, face masks, shields, plexiglass...everything like that,” Flood said of the various safety precautions being taken by the city on election day.
The Clerk’s Office has also been tracking mail, according to the video, with Flood stating that mail time is approximately two to four business days.
For those who want to avoid concerns with mail time, a ballot box has been placed outside of the Clerk’s Office’s High Street address. Any ballots dropped in the Official Ballot Drop Box will be recorded as absentee ballots.
“We’re hoping a lot of voters will feel comfortable using that,” Flood said.
Anyone with questions about the election is encouraged to call the Clerk’s Office or watch the Sept. 15 City Council Meeting, which begins at 7 p.m. Access to the meeting is available on the city website.
Flood said she will also try to attend one of the October City Council meetings to provide additional information.
“Please join into the council meetings and hopefully bring some questions and we’ll have an update,” Flood said, at the video’s end.
Erica Thoms can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org