Absentee Voting Guide Maine Absentee Voter Guide

Voting is one of the fundamental rights we have as citizens of this state and country. Everyone should make an effort to cast a ballot at each election.

Maine law makes it easy to cast an absentee ballot. You don't have to be out-of-town or have any other reason to take advantage of this easy way to vote at a time that is most convenient for you.

If you would like to vote by absentee ballot, please take a few moments to review the information below. Contact your local municipal clerk or the Elections Division if you have additional questions.

Make sure you have a voice in your future - cast a ballot.


What is absentee voting and how does it work?

Absentee voting allows you to cast a ballot without going to a voting place on Election Day.

Who may vote absentee?

Any registered voter may cast an absentee ballot instead of voting in person at a voting place on Election Day.
You don't need to have a specific reason or be unable to vote at the voting place on Election Day to receive an absentee ballot.

What are the steps to voting by absentee ballot?

1. Complete an absentee ballot application to get a ballot; then,
2. Fill out and deliver the ballot back to the municipal clerk, or to the Secretary of State, Division of Elections (if you are a Uniformed Service or Overseas voter).

When can I request a ballot?

Absentee ballots may be requested beginning 3 months before Election Day, and until the 3rd business day prior to the election, unless special circumstances exist. Make your request early to allow enough time for the ballot to be mailed to you.

Is there a deadline to request an absentee ballot?

For the November 3, 2020 General Election, the deadline to request an absentee ballot by telephone or online Absentee Ballot Request service is 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, October 29, 2020.

A voter may vote in the presence of the clerk during the clerk's office hours, until 5:00 p.m. on Friday October 30, 2020.

How do I apply for and receive an absentee ballot?

Contact the municipal clerk in the town or city where you are registered to vote. Uniformed Service and Overseas voters will request an absentee ballot directly from the Secretary of State, Division of Elections.

You can make a telephone request for your own ballot, which will be mailed to the address you provide to the clerk.

You can request your own ballot electronically using the Secretary of State’s online absentee ballot request service. The approved online form can be found at the following web site:  http://www.maine.gov/cgi-bin/online/Absentee Ballot/index.pl

You can make a written request by completing an absentee ballot application. Additionally, you can obtain a ballot for an immediate family member in this same way. A ballot will be mailed to the voter directly or to an immediate family member making the request. Your municipal clerk can tell you who is considered an immediate family member under the law.

NOTE: Ballots obtained by the voter or an immediate family member do not require witnesses, unless the voter receives assistance from another person in reading or marking the ballot.

Applications are available starting 3 months before the election from the municipal clerk or online at: http://www.maine.gov/cgi-bin/online/Absentee Ballot/index.pl

Follow this link to locate your municipal clerk

NOTE: If you receive an unsolicited absentee ballot application in the mail from a political party, campaign or advocacy organization, please note that these entities are not affiliated with the State of Maine’s Bureau of Corporations, Elections and Commissions or your municipal clerk’s office. Thus, they have no way of knowing whether or not you have already requested your absentee ballot.

You can disregard the mailing, or if you have not yet requested your ballot and you choose to use the form, make sure that the envelope mails the application directly to your municipal clerk for processing. Please do not fill out this form and return it to your clerk if you have already requested your absentee ballot by other means, as the review and rejection process of subsequent requests will result in unnecessary work for your municipal clerk. You need only submit one request.

Can I vote by absentee ballot in person somewhere?

Yes. You may vote absentee at the clerk's office as soon as absentee ballots are available. Absentee ballots are available at least 30 days before the election at the municipal clerk's office. You don't need to complete an application if you vote in person at the clerk's office. The deadline for absentee voting in the presence of the clerk, unless special circumstances exist, is the Thursday before the election.

When must my voted ballot be returned to my municipal clerk?

To be counted, voted absentee ballots must be received by the municipal clerk by 8:00 p.m. on Election Day.

If you plan to use the U.S. mail to receive or return your absentee ballot please note the following U.S. Postal Service advisories for mail delivery:

  • Request your ballot no later than 15 days prior to Election Day
  • Return your ballot no later than 7 days prior to Election Day

The USPS has assured us that all absentee ballots returned to your municipal clerk by mail at least 7 days prior to Election Day are guaranteed to be delivered in time to be cast and counted in the election.

If you plan to return your ballot outside of the suggested USPS delivery window, we encourage you to drop off your ballot in person or via an absentee ballot drop box at your municipal office (if available) no later than 8 p.m. on Election Day; or plan instead to vote in person at the polls on Election Day.

Are there any other ways to receive an absentee ballot?

You may make a written request for a "third person" (someone other than the voter or the voter's immediate family member) to obtain and hand-deliver an absentee ballot.

You must designate, in a written request or application, the specific third person who will handle and deliver the ballot. Only this designated third person may handle the absentee ballot.

Ballots cast in this way must be witnessed by either a notary public, a municipal clerk, a clerk of courts, or 2 other witnesses.

What happens if I attempt to vote in person after I have returned my absentee ballot or vice versa?

When you vote by absentee ballot in the State of Maine, your municipal clerk will take receipt of the ballot and verify that it can be accepted. Once they do so, they will mark your name in the voter system as “AV” for “absentee voter.” Thus, when they print out the incoming voter list just before Election Day, your name will already be “checked off” with the indicator marking that you have already voted via absentee ballot, and you will not be eligible to receive a ballot if you show up to vote in person.

On Election Day, some voters are still dropping off their absentee ballots and the town office is still receiving some by mail. Absentee ballots are processed in batches throughout the day and the list of those newly received absentee ballots is shared with each polling place for each batch, so if the absentee voter tries to vote in person, they will not be able to do so. (And conversely, if they vote in person before their ballot arrives that day, their absentee ballot will be rejected).

When will I receive my absentee ballot?

If you submit your absentee ballot request early, you will be among the first to receive your ballot. Printed ballots are sent out to the clerks 30 days prior to Election Day and they begin to mail them out shortly thereafter. If you submit your request during the 30-day period prior to Election Day, you will likely receive your ballot within 7-10 business days, on average. If you have any concerns about receiving your ballot, contact your municipal clerk directly. Do not submit more than one request for your ballot.

How do I track the Status of my ballot?

If you use the Online Absentee Ballot Request Service, you will receive a confirmation message that your application has been processed, and your municipal clerk will follow up with a confirmation email to let you know that your request has been received. We are in the process of developing an absentee ballot tracking system for voters to check on the status of their absentee ballot. This new service will be launched in October 2020 and additional details will be available at that time.

What if I still have questions?

For more information please contact:

Office of the Secretary of State
Division of Elections
101 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04333-0101
(207) 624-7650
cec.elections@maine.gov
www.maine.gov/sos/cec/elec/