Voting across Maine is proceeding “without incident or significant delays,” according to a nonpartisan political organization, which deployed volunteer election observers to all 16 counties.
“We have no reports of disturbances and almost universally good COVID-19 precautions. There have been some long lines, with Biddeford, Augusta and Portland the longest, but most are moving quickly. We are en route to a historic voter turnout,” the League of Women Voters of Maine said in a noon statement. The league does not support or oppose political parties or candidates.
Maine historically has had one of the highest turnout rates in the nation, and some municipalities this year may top their own records. On the Maine Public radio show Maine Calling, Kennebunk Town Clerk Merton Brown said he is expecting about 90 percent voter turnout.
Secretary of State Matt Dunlap said there was “no question” Maine would break the 2016 turnout record of nearly 772,000 voters after nearly 500,000 successfully voted by absentee ballot as of Monday afternoon.
While people were able to vote in person quickly in most places Tuesday, the lines in Portland kept people waiting outside for up to an hour and 45 minutes.
Portland resident Rachel Taylor, 31, said she arrived at the Italian Heritage Center on Westland Avenue at 7:30 a.m. and didn’t finish voting until 9:15 a.m. Most of her wait was outside in the cold. When she entered the building, she was frustrated to see there was only one line to give people ballots, instead of the usual two.
“Everybody was in good spirits. Nobody was misbehaving,” Taylor said. But “just because it’s easy for me … to take two hours out of the day to exercise this right … doesn’t mean it’s even possible for everyone else.”
Others across Portland reported similar wait times this morning.
There were no lines in Bangor, however.
Tory Alley, 35, of Bangor decided to vote in person at the Cross Insurance Center on Main Street because it was something important that he’d always done, he said. What’s more, “the city has done a great job as far as spacing,” he said. “It’s very nice and organized in there.”
In Presque Isle, Tamia Glidden said voting in person felt more significant, even if there was a wait. About three dozen people were in line when the polls opened at 7 a.m.
“It’s just something I’ve done all my life. It’s a very important thing for everyone to vote,” Glidden said. “It was great. I was so happy to see all of these people turn out so early in the morning. I hope the line continues all day. But as long as you vote, it doesn’t matter.”