Voters arrive at the Westbrook Community Center as the polls open on Tuesday morning. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN

Mainers have a chance today to help decide who will be our next president, settle a contentious U.S. Senate race, two congressional battles and a host of local races.

Many Mainers have already voted in this election. For those of you casting a ballot today, here’s what you need to know.

Find your polling place.

Polls are open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., per state law, although some polling places will be open earlier. The state offers a tool to search for your polling place here.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Maine officials pushed absentee voting this year and voters responded by casting ballots that way in record numbers. Nearly 500,000 ballots were accepted as of Monday afternoon, which was nearly half of all registered voters about 65 percent of 2016 turnout.

Yet lines could still be long at the polls. Some polling sites may have fewer booths or limit the number of people allowed in at a time due to the coronavirus. State officials are encouraging voters to allow extra time on Election Day. As long as you are in line at 8 p.m., you have the right to vote.

You can still drop off your absentee ballot.

All ballots will be counted as long as they are returned to your city or town clerk by 8 p.m. Tuesday. Maine does not require voters to cite a reason for voting absentee.

Be safe.

Cities and towns will be taking health precautions due to the coronavirus pandemic, including distancing and sanitation measures. Poll workers will wear personal protective equipment, and voters are encouraged to wear face coverings and maintain social distances — at least 6 feet between people.

If you are not registered to vote, you can do that at the polls.

You can check your voter registration status by entering your name, date of birth and current address on the site Vote.org. Maine is one of 21 states that allows same-day registration, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. It means that you can go to your polling place, show identification and proof of residency, register and vote. You do not need identification to vote, only to register.

Review the candidates.

After querying readers during the first part of 2020, we compiled the stances of Maine candidates in major races on subjects you identified as most important. We also asked every candidate for the Maine Legislature pointed questions on many of those issues. We’ve compiled it all in our voter’s guide.

Understand ranked-choice voting.

Ranked-choice voting will be used in the presidential and U.S. Senate races. Passed by Maine voters in a 2016 referendum, ranked-choice differs from traditional elections in which a candidate who gets a plurality of votes wins. In ranked-choice elections, voters choose multiple candidates in order of their preference. A winner is declared if a candidate wins an outright majority of votes.

If no candidate gets more than 50 percent of total votes, the last-place finisher is eliminated. The second choices of voters who cast ballots for that candidate are then considered and reallocated to the remaining candidates. The process repeats until a winner emerges with a majority of the votes in a final round of voting.

You do not have to rank candidates. If you rank just one, your vote remains with that candidate throughout the ranked-choice process. Ranking just one candidate is the same as ranking that candidate first, second, third and so on. The only way your vote is transferred to a second-choice candidate is if your first-choice candidate is eliminated.

Follow the results.

Once you vote, congratulate yourself. Voting is important. If you want to know who the winners are, go here. We will start listing results after the polls close at 8 p.m. You can read more about what to anticipate here.

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