The chilly weather got to you? Lost the old pep? Can’t get motivated? Try voting! There’s no better way to reinvigorate the democratic-republic in you than to cast a vote for a worthy candidate or against one who didn’t impress. Want another reason? Your neighbor, or maybe even your spouse, may have already voted and you don’t want to be left out.
Voting is simple but important. If you’re registered, you just need to show up at your local polling place. Your town office can tell you where that is if you have doubts. It couldn’t hurt to bring identification, though you shouldn’t need it. Not registered? Bring identification and head for town hall – you may be able to vote there as well. Even if there is a problem with your registration, you can still vote under Maine’s challenged ballot law, so there’s no reason to leave a polling place without having your say.
Don’t know who the candidates are or what the three statewide ballot questions mean? Go to the secretary of state’s Web page (www.maine.gov/sos/) for answers.
Certainly, there’s enough at stake to lift you from the torpor of endless campaign commercials and lengthy arguments over issues. The long and expensive presidential race and beverage tax repeal couldn’t have escaped your notice. Don’t simply burden your friends with your opinion – make it official at your local polling place. Haven’t decided which way to go on the casino referendum or which Senate candidate to favor? It’s not too late to work up an opinion.
Many of your friends and neighbors likely already have as this is shaping up to be a record year for absentee or early voting. In 1999, state law was changed to allow any registered voter to vote absentee for any reason. Since then the number of people voting early has steadily increased. Some communities, including Bangor, have set up polling places where voters could use absentee ballots to vote before today and they’ve been crowded.
As of Monday, more than 197,000 absentee ballots had been returned. In 2004, the last presidential election, 166,000 absentee ballots were cast.
The number of Mainers registered to vote has already grown by more than 30,000 since September, with nearly 943,000 residents registered.
This could also be a record year for participation. The secretary of state predicts between 75 percent and 80 percent of registered voters will cast ballots this year. That would exceed the record of 74.3 percent in 2004.
It may be confusing to first-time voters, but there are only two things to remember: Votes are counted carefully in Maine so if you cast a ballot, it will matter; and there’s no reason to leave a polling place without voting, no matter what the problem. (If, by the way, you make a mistake on a ballot, you can ask for another.)
Voting. What would Election Day be without it?