The Maine State House in Augusta is seen on May 6, 2020. Credit: Natalie Williams / BDN

The coronavirus pandemic has dramatically decreased the number of publicly funded campaigns, the state ethics commission says.

Officials at the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Campaign Finance, which oversees funding for the Maine Clean Elections Act, say 43 candidates were unable to qualify, the Portland Press Herald reports.

The number of candidates who failed to qualify is much higher than the average, said Emma Burke, candidate registrar in the ethics office.

All told, 208 candidates did qualify by collecting $5 contributions from 60 registered voters, marking the second consecutive decrease in “clean election” candidates. In 2014, 249 candidates qualified, and 229 candidates qualified in 2016.

“The law is designed for legislative candidates to meet their neighbors in their districts and ask for $5 qualifying contributions documented with a signature on a form,” said Jonathan Wayne, executive director of the commission. “That was much harder because candidates could not go door-to-door, as they had in years past.”

All 186 seats of the Legislature are on the ballot this year, and there are 405 candidates, according to the commission’s website.