Get ready to cast your ballot now

Posted Sept. 03, 2008, at 9:35 p.m.

It’s hard to believe the general election is just two months away. The Bangor city clerk’s office has been preparing since January. All indications point to a busy election season … but we’ll be ready. You need to be ready, too.

In Bangor, we are mailing bright green postcards to all registered voters telling them their assigned polling place, polling hours, voter registration hours, early voting dates and times and absentee ballot information. If you don‘t receive a green card within the next two weeks, you may not be registered or we may have an incorrect address. If you don’t receive a postcard soon, call us at 992-4200.

You can register to vote or update your registration information at City Hall during our regular business hours. Registration will also be available at the Bangor Civic Center during early voting. Please bring a photo I.D. (driver’s license, state I.D., passport, military I.D.) and any written material that shows your name and address in Bangor (lease, rent receipt, payroll check, utility bill, vehicle registration, etc.). Voters who have moved and do not update their registration information before Election Day may wait in line at one polling place only to be sent to a new polling place. To avoid this, update your information now by visiting City Hall during regular business hours.

For Bangor voters only, early voting (in-person absentee) is available for those wanting to vote in person before Election Day. Early voting is available at the Civic Center beginning Monday, Oct. 27, and continuing through Saturday, Nov. 1. Hours are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Given the predicted high voter turnout, be prepared for lines similar to those on Election Day. Your patience and understanding will be appreciated.

In-person absentee voting will not be available in Bangor on Monday, Nov. 3, the day before the election. Recently, municipalities around the state have had longer lines and wait times on the day before an election than they have on Election Day. Our election staff will use Monday to be sure we are prepared for Election Day itself. Voters who wish to vote on that Monday will be able to obtain a traditional absentee ballot at City Hall. However, those ballots must be voted outside of City Hall and then returned since all available voting booths will be in place at our four polling locations.

A voter may request a traditional absentee ballot by calling 992-CAST, by mailing or delivering a written request to City Clerk, 73 Harlow Street, or by an e-mail sent through the state’s automated system at http://www.maine.gov/cgi-bin/online/AbsenteeBallot/index.pl. Ballots are usually available in mid-September and must be received at City Hall no later than 8 p.m. Nov. 4.

On Election Day, there will be one polling location for each of Bangor’s four legislative districts. District 15 votes at the Civic Center at Bass Park, 100 Dutton St. District 16 votes at the Davis Road Community Center, 161 Davis Road. District 17 votes at Bangor High School, 885 Broadway. District 18 votes at William S. Cohen School, 304 Garland St. You can find your assigned polling place by visiting our Web site at www.bangormaine.gov. Click on the link on our homepage labeled “City of Bangor — Street list-Voting Districts” and check where your street votes. All polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Election Day.

All cities and towns are now part of a statewide, centralized voter database. As required by state and federal law, the Secretary of State’s office has purged the voter registration list to remove inactive voters. If a voter has been removed in error, that voter can reestablish their voting status by showing proof of identity and residency, so please bring I.D. when you vote. Mistakes can happen, so be prepared.

Voters needing transportation to the polls on Election Day can ride for free on the BAT. Just tell the driver that you are voting. Some volunteer organizations also arrange rides to the polls and provide our office with contact information that we are happy to share.

On Election Day, Nov. 4, the city clerk’s office will be closed to all business except that related to voting. This will allow us to focus our attention on the election. Please plan accordingly.

Look for your green postcard. Be sure your voter registration information is up to date. If you vote by absentee ballot, do so early. Whether you’re voting early at the Civic Center or at the polls on Election Day, plan ahead to allow the necessary time to cast your ballot. I encourage all interested citizens to register early and vote on (or before) Nov. 4.

Patti Dubois is the city clerk and registrar of voters in the city of Bangor.

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