GOP catches up as more than 128,000 Mainers vote early this year

Posted Nov. 02, 2010, at 5:53 a.m.
Last modified Nov. 02, 2010, at 10:52 a.m.
Rex Sibley votes at the Bangor Civic Center early Tuesday morning.  &quotI think there will be a good turnout," said Sibley, a navy veteran who served in World War II. (Linda Coan O'Kresik/Bangor Daily News)
Rex Sibley votes at the Bangor Civic Center early Tuesday morning. "I think there will be a good turnout," said Sibley, a navy veteran who served in World War II. (Linda Coan O'Kresik/Bangor Daily News)
Bangor residents voting at the Civic Center early Tuesday morning. (Linda Coan O'Kresik/Bangor Daily News)
Bangor residents voting at the Civic Center early Tuesday morning. (Linda Coan O'Kresik/Bangor Daily News)

PORTLAND, Maine — Election Day doesn’t come until Tuesday, but more than 100,000 Mainers already have cast their ballots.

Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap said 128,817 absentee ballots had been returned as of Monday evening. Of those, more than 48,500 were returned by Democrats and more than 44,600 by Republicans, while nearly 33,000 ballots were returned by voters who aren’t enrolled in a political party. Overall, Dunlap projected up to 55 percent of eligible voters on Tuesday will cast tallies, which is more than most elections.

The latest figures give a voting edge to Democrats, with 38 percent to 35 percent for Republicans. But Republicans are doing better than two years ago. Around this time in 2008, Democrats accounted for 45 percent of early votes, compared to 29 percent for Republicans.

Independent gubernatorial candidate Eliot Cutler, hoping to get a boost from 11th-hour changes of heart, told voters who cast absentee ballots for someone else but now support his campaign that they could ask local officials for new ballots so they can vote again. But that is not possible if the ballots have already been processed.

Dunlap said the law on taking back ballots is somewhat vague, but election officials’ policy is that changing one’s mind does not qualify as sufficient reason for absentees to revote. However, any ballots that are reissued will be marked as challenged and the issue could be decided in court in the event of a recount, said Dunlap.

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