December 05, 2019
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Go vote! Your ballot matters.

Matt Rourke | AP
Matt Rourke | AP

Still adjusting to the weekend time change? Looking for motivation as the days get shorter and we inch closer to another Maine winter? Try voting! There’s no better way to reinvigorate the democratic republic in you than to cast a vote for a worthy candidate or against one who didn’t impress. Want another reason? Your neighbor, or maybe even your spouse, may have voted already, and you don’t want to be left out.

Voting is simple but important. If you are registered, you just need to show up at your local polling place. Don’t know where it is? You can look it up on the Secretary of State’s web page.

Not registered? Bring identification and head to the polls. Maine is one of 21 states that allow you to register on Election Day. Even if there is a problem with your registration, you still can vote under Maine’s challenged ballot law, so there’s no reason to leave a polling place without having your say. If you make a mistake, you can ask for a new ballot.

Without races for Congress or the Blaine House this year, turnout statewide will likely be light. But there are important local and statewide questions to be decided Nov. 5.

Question 1 on the state ballot asks for voter approval of a $105 million transportation bond. That money, to be matched by an estimated $137 million in funding from the federal government and other sources, will be used to improve the state’s transportation infrastructure.

This bond is a valuable investment in Maine’s roads, bridges, ports, air and transit systems. A growing library of reports outline Maine’s failure to meet infrastructure needs with adequate funding. In August, Maine DOT Commissioner Bruce Van Note said that heading into the 2020 construction season without the bond would put his agency in “a world of hurt.”

Question 2 asks voters if they favor amending the Maine State Constitution “to allow persons with disabilities to sign petitions in an alternative manner as authorized by the Legislature.” This is not a controversial proposal. Question 2 would correct long-standing, flawed language and allow the Maine Legislature to do what it intended to do more than a decade ago: provide a process for voters with disabilities who cannot sign their names to still be able to sign referendum petitions.

Don’t know much about these questions? The Secretary of State’s Office has a voter’s guide on its website.

In many communities, there are local races that should spark your interest. In Bangor, for example, 11 residents are running for four seats on the City Council. This is a record number of candidates, which University of Maine Political Science professor Rob Glover attributes to growing political activism and interest in politics. City residents will also choose from four school board candidates and vote on a $6 million bond to renovate and upgrade city hall.

In Portland, three people are challenging incumbent Ethan Strimling in the city’s third mayoral race since the city made the mayorship an elected position in 2011. Three candidates are vying to be mayor of Lewiston. There are also several contested city council and school board races in Lewiston, where the city’s first Somali-American candidate is running for a council seat.

There will also be signature gatherers at many polling places. Organizers of the referendum effort to stop the proposed Central Maine Power corridor through western Maine said they will have people working in 100 cities and towns on their effort to get their question on the 2020 ballot.

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.

There are many reasons to head to the polls on Tuesday. Plus, many of your friends and neighbors likely already have had their say via early and absentee voting. Don’t simply burden your friends with your opinion — make it official at your polling place.

 



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