Trying to make sense out of absentee ballot applications

by Roland D. Hallee

With the push by municipal officials encouraging voters to cast their ballots early, and the aggressive campaigns taken by political candidates to get-out-the-vote, much confusion has surfaced as to the process of voting absentee.

At the head of the confusion is the fact that many households are receiving multiple unsolicited applications in the mail.

According to area election officials, individual voters are receiving multiple absentee ballot applications.

Michelle Flewelling, Fairfield town manager, stated, “There are two registered voters at my address, we have received eight absentee ballot requests in the mail so far.”

China Town Clerk Angela Nelson pointed out, “We have received multiple absentee ballot applications from individuals. When this happens, we write ‘Duplicate Submission’ on the additional requests and staple them to the first processed application. If residents are receiving these additional applications in the mail they can simply destroy them.”

Vassalboro Town Clerk Cathy Coyne stressed, “Once you have applied for an absentee ballot, toss all other requests. You can only apply for one absentee ballot.”

Patti Dubois, Waterville city clerk, informed the public that if a voter receives multiple applications, “Do not call your municipal clerk, since these mailings are coming from outside civic/political groups. If a voter has already submitted an absentee ballot request form, disregard any additional ones received in the mail.” According to Dubois, to check on the status of an absentee ballot, go to https://apps.web.maine.gov/cgi-bin/online/AbsenteeBallot/ballotstatus.pl.

Flewelling added, “If you should happen to fill [out a second ballot] and mail it to your town office, the second application will be denied. Since you are only allowed to receive one set of ballots per election, and all absentee requests are processed through the state of Maine, Secretary of State computer system, it will be obvious to the election clerks that more than one request has been submitted.”

In most towns, absentee ballot applications can be found on the community’s website. If you have not applied for an absentee ballot, and receive one in the mail, it may be filled out and returned to your municipal office.

Once a person receives their ballots, which will be mailed on or about October 3, there are multiple ways to cast the ballot. They can be mailed back to their respective town offices; they can be hand carried to the municipal offices, or, in some communities, placed in the convenient ballot collection boxes located outside their town offices. They should not be brought to the polls on election day.

In Waterville, the drop box is located outside the main entrance to city hall. In the town of Fairfield, the ballot collection box is located at the town office near the handicap accessible ramp. In China, the drop box, once it arrives, according to Nelson, will be located outside, in front of the town office.

According to Flewelling, should voters who have applied for absentee ballots not receive them in the mail by October 15, they should contact their respective town office.

But the COVID-19 pandemic will cause other election day problems. Since many people will insist on in-person voting at the polls, state CDC guidelines will be observed.

According to Dubois, “In Waterville, anyone who waits to vote on election day should plan for long lines. Due to social distancing requirements and gathering limits that are capped at 50, including staff and voters, there will only be approximately 25 voters within the voting area at one time.”

Voters should also be aware that eligible voters must be allowed to vote on election day whether they choose to wear a mask or not.

All the town officials stressed that voters are asked to have patience with the election workers who are all doing the best they can under the challenging conditions.

The polling places are: In China, in the portable building at 571 Lakeview Dr., behind the town office, from 7 a.m. – 8 p.m.;

In Vassalboro, according to Coyne, at the Vassalboro Community School, 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. In Fairfield, at the Fairfield Community Center, 61 Water St., from 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.; in Waterville, Waterville Junior High School, 100 West River Rd., 6 a.m. – 8 p.m.

 
 

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