AUGUSTA, Maine — You’re probably already seeing TV ads about the 2020 election, but Mainers will vote on Tuesday with high- and low-profile local races and a state bond question that would mean big money for the transportation system.
Here’s your one-stop guide to the biggest issues on the ballot, how you can learn about the smaller issues on it and what you’ll see if you’re going to the polls on Tuesday.
When and where can I vote?
Polls are open in all cities and towns on Tuesday for at least 12 hours from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Many municipalities open up before then for early risers. To find your polling place, visit the state of Maine’s website and enter your home address.
Mainers must be 18 on Election Day to vote. A form of identification is not required. You can register at your municipal office before Tuesday or use same-day registration to register at your polling place on Election Day. The form should take less than a minute to fill out.
A spokeswoman for Secretary of State Matt Dunlap said Friday the state is projecting up to 25 percent voter turnout in communities with high-profile local questions. In most others, he’s projecting between 15 percent and 20 percent, so lines shouldn’t be long.
What’s on the statewide ballot?
There are only two questions on the statewide ballot in 2019 and they’re both pretty low-key ones. A yes vote on the constitutional amendment contained in Question 1 would give Mainers with disabilities that prevent them from issuing a signature another way to help referendums they support get on the Maine ballot. A no vote would reject the amendment.
Question 2 is a $105 million bond for Maine’s transportation system. The Maine Department of Transportation relies on this funding for upkeep of roads and bridges. Voters have authorized similar bonds during the last four consecutive years. It would be matched by $137 million in federal funds. The department has said it would be in “a world of hurt” without the money.
What’s at stake in local races?
The highest-profile 2019 races are the mayoral contests in Maine’s two largest cities of Portland and Lewiston. Whether you have local races depends on where you live — bigger municipalities are having races for mayor and other local offices. Many smaller ones have few or no races.
In Portland, Mayor Ethan Strimling is running against three challengers for a second term. City Councilor Spencer Thibodeau and former school board chair Kate Snyder are the best bets to knock him off in a ranked-choice race with server Travis Curran also in the running. Strimling is running to the left of his more established foes, who mostly assail his leadership style.
Lewiston will get a new mayor, with a Democrat versus Republican matchup in the nonpartisan race between former City Council President Mark Cayer and former City Councilor Tim Lajoie with perennial candidate Charles Soule also running. Their race has been low-key compared to the all-consuming 2015 and 2017 races in Maine’s second-largest city.
Bangor also has a big and wide-open City Council race, with 11 people running for four open at-large seats. The top three vote-getters will win three-year terms, with the fourth-place finisher winning only a two-year term to replace a former councilor who moved to Florida.
You can read more about the 2019 election here.
What’s the best way to get information on my local candidates?
You’re excused if you don’t know who you’re voting for in every race. In some Maine towns, voters will see elections down to a granular level. In Dexter, for example, residents will elect two members to the board of directors for Mayo Regional Hospital in Dover-Foxcroft.
If you don’t know what’s going to be on your ballot, your municipal website is a good place to start. They typically will publish a sample ballot and a list of candidates for any local offices. If you want more detailed information on local races, the local daily or weekly newspaper is your best bet to see how the candidates and sides of different issues differ.
The Portland Press Herald has a similar page for its coverage area and its sister dailies cover local races big and small, not to mention the myriad weekly papers for which local issues are their main focus.
For the races that aren’t covered by local papers, it’s more difficult. Some public access channel and community groups run candidate forums that may be streamed online or via social media platforms. The candidates may also have websites or Facebook pages. Here’s our guide to avoiding the least reliable ones.
How do I track election results?
The Bangor Daily News is the only Maine news organization that independently collects election results. Before an election, we ask every city and town in the state for a list of their races and we use that information to compile our results page that will be updated on election night. From that page, you filter down to results for your county, city or town. Here’s Bangor, for example.
Who is going to be collecting signatures at the polls?
Something that has become a feature of Election Day are the myriad campaigns or other groups that use the captive pool of voters in one place do organizing work. This year, it will be a strong point of emphasis for the campaigns gearing up for the 2020 election.
Organizers of the referendum effort to kill the proposed Central Maine Power corridor have promised to have people working in 100 cities and towns on their effort to get their question on the 2020 ballot, which will take more than 63,000 signatures from registered voters.
Republicans and Democrats running for president in 2020 must also collect 2,000 signatures from registered party voters to get on the March primary ballot. A spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee said volunteers will be working in more than two dozen polling places on Tuesday to boost President Donald Trump’s bid for ballot access.
Among the field of Democrats, the campaigns of Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Bernie Sanders of Vermont have published notices of coordinated signature-gathering efforts around the state. Businessman Andrew Yang’s campaign will be gathering signatures in bigger cities.
You could see more candidates out there in your town as well. We tell you as a fair warning so you can support them — or avoid them.