Governor Mills announced yesterday that she has signed an Executive Order to protect the health and safety of Maine voters, poll workers and election officials and to facilitate access to safe in-person absentee voting in the November general election amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The Executive Order:
- Extends the deadline for voter registration applications by mail or third-person from October 13, 2020 to October 19, 2020. In-person voter registration may still occur up to and on election day.
- Allows municipalities to begin processing absentee ballots up to seven days before the general election, rather than four days in statute, to help election officials accommodate to expected increase in absentee voting.
- Authorizes the Secretary of State to issue guidance, in consultation with Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention and local officials to facilitate voting, including the provision and security of external drop boxes accessible only by the clerk for the safe return of absentee ballots.
- Allows municipalities more time to conduct the public process and application necessary to consolidate polling places and allows municipalities to utilize election clerks from abutting counties if more are available in their own.
- Maintains the 50-person gathering limit in each voting space within a polling location to promote appropriate physical distancing, ensures that voting booths remain six feet apart at polling places and requires voter lines outside of polling places to be marked with signage to enforce physical distancing.
The Governor’s Executive Order may be amended in response to any emerging circumstances that threaten the integrity of the election or the health and safety of voters and election staff.