League of Women Voter’s election monitors report smooth voting at polls

Tue, 11/03/2020 - 6:15pm

    The League of Women Voters of Maine reported that through 8 p.m. on Election Day, polling across the state has successfully concluded.

    In a news release, Executive Director Anna Kellar said, “With such an influx of ballots casted via absentee, it is not surprising that Maine would have a smooth election day for in person voting.”

    For the first time, LWVME deployed Maine volunteer election observers to provide real time reports from about 173 polling locations around the state. This included an organized effort of 91 volunteers across all of Maine’s 16 counties. This preliminary data, complete as of 8:30 PM on Election Day, includes information on the rate at which voters are arriving to vote, the time voters waited in line to cast their ballots, COVID precautions, and whether any irregularities were observed at the polls. Updates were also posted throughout the day on Twitter

    Of the 173 polling locations that were monitored by the League on Election Day, observers noted that there were 90 approximate locations with a 10 minute wait to vote. Other pollings sites with longer wait lines of 45 minutes or more affected approximately 21 locations, including Augusta, Portland, and Biddeford. 

    Observers monitored the presence of COVID precautions, such as poll workers wearing masks, the use of plexiglass barriers, and social distancing in any wait lines. Approximately 95% of the 173 polling locations upheld high COVID standards. The remaining sites may not have used plexiglass barriers, or staff might have inconsistently worn face masks while polling sites were open.

    “Today, we saw a lot of positivity and excitement, and we are proud of Maine voters,” Kellar added. “We are also proud of the poll workers, our observing team, and everyone who has been working for months to make sure voters are heard. We have risen to the challenge.”

    The League of Women Voters of Maine will continue gathering reports from polling locations through the completion of the election. If the state conducts a Ranked Choice Voting tabulation, the LWVME will deploy volunteers to Augusta to observe that process.

    LWVME has worked with a coalition of Maine organizations throughout 2020 to ensure that the pandemic does not depress voter turnout, and that election officials make reasonable accommodations to ensure a safe and inclusive process for all voters. Maine had 1,063,383 registered voters as of October 26, and historically one of the highest turnout rates in the nation.

    The LWVME has been collecting responses to an Absentee Voting Survey. This is intended to collect stories and assess the experience of voting absentee in the November general election. The League also collected survey responses after the July Primary and published an analysis that highlighted a few complaints from voters. 

    Complaints following the July Primary included confusion and concern about the instructions they received from their town and postage issues. The League has seen virtually none of those complaints in the November 3rd survey, despite a similarly large (700+) respondent pool. The League will publish a more in-depth analysis in the coming weeks.