by Emma Davis, Maine Morning Star
Absentee voting is underway for the March 5 presidential primary elections in Maine.
The Democratic and Republican parties are holding primaries, and there is also a special election for part of South Portland: House District 122. The no-excuse absentee voting period continues through Feb. 29, which includes mail-in and in-person absentee voting at town and city halls.
The candidates on the Democratic ballot include President Joe Biden and Dean Phillips. Stephen Lyons is also a declared write-in for the Democratic race.
While Ron DeSantis and Vivek Ramaswamy have since dropped out of the Republican race for president, they will remain on Maine’s ballot unless their campaigns notify the Secretary of State that they have withdrawn from the race. The other candidates on the Republican ballot include Ryan Binkley, Nikki Haley, and former President Donald Trump — though Trump’s eligibility has been questioned.
Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows, a Democrat, disqualified Trump from Maine’s Republican primary ballot in December under the “insurrection clause” of the U.S. Constitution because of his involvement in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Maine was the second state to disqualify Trump under this clause after Colorado.
Trump promptly appealed the decision to the Maine Superior Court, which punted the question back to Bellows and ordered her to issue a new ruling once the U.S. Supreme Court rules on the Colorado case. Despite numerous appeals, Maine’s top court has maintained the decision to await the U.S. Supreme Court ruling. Oral arguments for the Supreme Court case took place Thursday.
“Should any candidates be found, at this point, to be disqualified from the ballot, or pass away, the Department [of the Secretary of State] would notify municipal clerks, and notice would be sent with absentee ballots, posted at voting sites, and posted on the Secretary’s website,” the Secretary of State’s office wrote in a statement.
The primaries this year are being conducted under a new semi-open primary law. This means that unenrolled voters can vote in any party primary without having to enroll in the party.
Voters enrolled in a party can still only vote in that party’s primary ballot. In order to vote in another party’s primary, voters have to change their registration at least 15 days prior to the primary. However, because that date falls on a holiday, Feb. 19, which is President’s Day, voters should change their registration no later than Feb. 16, according to the Secretary of State’s Office.
This will also be the first year that presidential primary elections in Maine are done using ranked-choice voting. The general presidential election in 2020 was the first time ranked-choice voting was used in a presidential race, although Maine has used ranked-choice voting for other races dating back to 2018.
In a race with three or more candidates, if a candidate doesn’t receive more than 50% of the vote in Election Night counting, then a ranked-choice tabulation will be conducted in Augusta in the days following.
“Whether it’s a busy schedule, a desire to vote from home, or concerns about the weather on Election Day, there are lots of reasons Mainers may choose to vote ahead of time,” Bellows said. “Maine’s no-excuse absentee voting laws ensure voters can participate in the upcoming presidential primary in the way that is most convenient for them.”
The Green Independent, Libertarian, and No Labels Parties chose not to hold presidential primaries.
Maine Morning Star is part of States Newsroom, a nonprofit news network supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Maine Morning Star maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Lauren McCauley for questions: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Maine Morning Star on Facebook and Twitter.