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Camden town clerk meets with Gov. Mills

By Susan Mustapich | Aug 07, 2020
Camden Town Clerk Katrina Oakes

CAMDEN — The Maine Secretary of State's office invited Camden Town Clerk Katrina Oakes to join four other clerks in an Aug. 5 discussion with Governor Janet Mills about how things worked at the polls July 14 in regard to executive orders in response to COVID-19.

The clerks from Portland, Bangor and Lewiston and Orono were invited, and they also wanted representation from a smaller community, Oakes said. "My name came up and I was honored, and said I'd love to be part of it."

An initial meeting took place Aug. 4 with Secretary of State Matt Dunlap and Deputy Secretary of State Julie Flynn  to share notes and put together a well-thought-out meeting with the governor on Wednesday, she said.

There were quite a few executive orders in July regarding concerns for safety and well-being, and the clerks had to make adjustments, Oakes said. "They wanted to hear what worked well, and may not have worked as well."

While Oakes has attended all the state election conventions during her tenure as town clerk, this was her first meeting with a governor.

At the Aug. 5 meeting with Gov. Mills, Dunlap and Flynn presented the information discussed Aug. 4. The meeting was a good learning experience, Oakes said.

One of the topics discussed was the maximum number of people allowed inside a polling place at one time on election day (which was 50 in July) and whether poll workers should be counted in that number. In Camden, the poll workers were well-protected, with masks, face shields and gloves, she said. At the pre-meeting, the clerks recommended the option of not including poll workers in the limit on those inside the polls.

Another topic was the suspension of the state requirement that clerks provide a certain number of voting booths: one for every 200 registered voters. The clerks from Maine's largest cities, as well as the two smaller towns, would like to see the suspension of that requirement remain in place for the November election.

In Camden, the suspension of this rule allowed every other voting booth to be taped off, in order to create social distancing between voters, Oakes explained. Overall, at the July elections, the adjustments made to follow the executive orders "worked fine, as we had so many vote absentee," she said. "We had no lines at any time."

At the Aug. 4 Select Board meeting, Town Manager Audra Caler announced that Oakes would be meeting with Gov. Mills and the clerks from major cities and talking about their observations of the July elections, in light of preparing for the November election.

"I'm really proud of Katrina. She deserves it. She is fantastic when it comes to elections,"Caler said.

"That was the first election that I worked at. It was so smooth, she did such an amazing job. Janet Mills is in good hands with Katrina, is what I'd like to say."

Board members added their congratulations. Marc Ratner said "from the voters perspective, voting has always been a wonderful experience in this town."

The town should be proud of Katrina. She's fantastic at what she does," Caler said.

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Comments (1)
Posted by: Katie Drinkwater | Aug 08, 2020 10:53

Post by Dee Urquhart....I AM very proud of Katrina!! Thanks for all you do for our town!

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