Election clerks Pauline Plourde, left, and Susan Gallant process absentee ballots for the primary election, Tuesday, March 3, 2020, in Lewiston, Maine. Credit: Robert F. Bukaty / AP

Maine voters can request absentee ballots for the general election beginning on Monday, though they will have to complete those requests by mail or phone for the next few weeks as the state makes improvements to its online ballot request system.

More than 200,000 Maine voters requested absentee ballots for the July election. It amounted to roughly 40 percent of voters in a record for a primary. There will likely be a far larger crush of ballots in November as state and local officials will continue urging Mainers to vote absentee to minimize crowding at polling places during the coronavirus pandemic.

Under state law, voters can begin requesting absentee ballots three months prior to an election, making Monday the first day to request them in Maine. But the online form where voters can typically make ballot requests was not yet available as of Monday.

Deputy Secretary of State Julie Flynn said the form was not yet online because the office is trying to make the site easier for users, including better distinguishing between the form for uniformed and overseas voters and one for voters currently residing in Maine. She said the online system will be back in a few weeks.

For now, voters who do not want to wait until the online absentee ballot system is up and running can request a ballot by filling out a form on the secretary of state’s website and mailing it to their town office, or by calling their town clerk.

Ballots cannot be issued until 30 days prior to an election, Flynn noted, so voters will receive their ballot at the same time whether they put in a request now or in early October.