First Presidential Primary in Maine in two decades to be held March 3

Explanation of the process

by Regina Coppens
League of Women Voters of Maine, Capital Area Chapter

The Maine Legislature enacted a Presidential Primary law in 2019, changing the way Maine voters select party candidates for the presidential election from a caucus to a primary. Instead of the political parties meeting in each municipality to select their presidential candidate, candidates will be selected by secret ballot. This change was supported by many who felt that it would boost voter participation in the selection process. In the past, some of the caucus locations were not large enough to accommodate all the party members who wanted to participate, and other party members were unable to spend the hours required at caucuses to cast a vote.

Who can vote in the March 3 election? In addition to the presidential candidates, there will be one referendum question on the ballot. Any registered voter can vote on the referendum question. Voters do not need to be enrolled in a political party to vote on the ballot question.

However, in order to vote in the primaries, you have to register with a party. Unenrolled, or independent voters may enroll in the party of their choice up to and including on Election Day. If, after the election, you want to unenroll from the party, you must wait three months. Voters who are already enrolled and want to change their party affiliation in order to vote a primary ballot must do so 15 days before the election.

Absentee ballots may be requested up to three months before an election and until the third business day prior to the election. For the presidential primaries on March 3, the latest date to request a ballot is February 27, 2020. (Under certain special circumstances, a voter may request an absentee ballot after this deadline.)

Absentee ballots are available 30 days before elections and must be turned into the city or town office by 8 p.m. on the day of the election, March 3.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020 Election

The following candidates will be on the ballot in the Maine’s presidential primary according to the Maine Secretary of State’s office:

Democrats: Joseph Biden, Michael Bloomberg, Cory Booker, Peter Buttigieg, Tulsi Gabbard, Amy Klobuchar, Patrick Deval, Bernard Sanders, Thomas Steyer, Elizabeth Warren, Marianne Williamson, and Andrew Yang.

Republicans: Donald J. Trump

Any registered voter can vote on the referendum question.

Question 1: People’s Veto

Do you want to reject the new law that removes religious and philosophical exemptions to requiring immunization against certain communicable diseases for students to attend schools and colleges and for employees of nursery schools and health care facilities?

What does this People’s Veto mean?

A “Yes” vote means veto the law and reinstate the religious and philosophical exemptions. A “No” vote means keep the law and close those non-medical exemptions.

In May 2019, LD 798 was signed into law. It eliminates non-medical exemptions to school-required immunizations. The law retains the currently defined medical exemptions, but removes “philosophical reasons” and “religious belief” from the exemption language.

The law allows physicians and nurse practitioners to write medical exemptions using their professional judgment.

Regina Coppens is a volunteer with the League of Women Voters, Capital Area Chapter. The league is a non-partisan organization and does not support any candidates. Its goal is to inform voters about elections. Regina Coppens can be contacted at 376 West Rd., Belgrade, ME 04917, 207-877-4282.


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