A record-breaking election for Maine

By Sen. Dave Miramant | Nov 19, 2020
Sen. Dave Miramant

This election, Mainers showed up to make their voices heard in overwhelming numbers. Whether they took advantage of absentee voting or early in-person voting at their town offices or they just showed up on Nov. 3, Mainers refused to let a pandemic get in the way of their civic duty. It’s one of the many reasons I am so humbled to have been reelected to the Maine Senate to serve the people of Senate District 12, which encompasses most of Knox County. Thank you to the people of Knox County for your support, and to all voters who came out to participate in this year’s elections.

Voter turnout for this election broke records across the nation, with about 62 percent of eligible U.S. voters casting their ballots this year. We haven’t seen voter turnout that high in 50 years, and as votes continue to be tallied it’s possible that number could grow. That is something to celebrate. In Maine, we also broke our own record for voter turnout, but this shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. Mainers take their duty to participate in our democracy seriously, and Maine is always one of the states with the highest voter turnout. Secretary of State Matt Dunlap estimates that voter turnout in Maine for this election will be more than 75 percent. Not everyone’s chosen candidate won their race this year and I know that suffering a loss can be difficult. But whether your chosen candidates won or lost their races this year, when citizens chose to participate in their democracy, we all benefit.

The pandemic easily could have prevented such high participation if it weren’t for Maine’s strong voting laws. In Maine, any voter can request an absentee ballot without having to give a reason, and those who are eligible can register to vote at the polls on Election Day. This is not the case in all states, and it’s a big part of why so many Mainers exercise their right to vote in each election. With about half a million Maine voters voting via absentee ballot this year, Gov. Mills issued an order that allowed election workers to begin processing (but not counting) absentee ballots seven days before Election Day. Usually, Maine election workers can start on this task four days before Election Day. Some other states aren’t allowed to start processing these ballots until Election Day or the day before, leading to the kind of frustrating delays we’ve seen this election. By making sure our election workers have the time and the tools they need to do their jobs properly, we can ensure that our elections are secure and that people trust the process.

While Maine enjoys robust voting laws, that doesn’t mean we can’t still improve. Although Secretary Dunlap is currently serving his last term, he has some predictions about what the future of voting in Maine may look like. Some of the innovations in voting we saw this year — like secure drop boxes for absentee ballots and an online ballot tracking system — will likely become permanent. Other improvements to make voting more accessible could include online voter registration.  Maine is one of only 10 states that doesn’t currently allow this. Another change Maine should consider is a universal vote-by-mail system. I’ve previously introduced legislation that would implement a secure mail voting system like other states, such as Oregon, currently use. As I begin another term as your state senator, I pledge to continue working on issues that will strengthen our democracy.

With the election behind us, it is also time to leave behind the rhetoric that has turned so many of us against each other. Our state is facing unique challenges brought on by the pandemic and the effect it has had on our economy and our people. Finding a path forward through this crisis while tending to the regular business of our state requires us all to come together to make our state’s government work for the people. I promise to work with anyone and everyone willing to help move our state forward.

Serving as your senator in Augusta has been a true honor. I am deeply grateful to all of those who trusted me with their vote and I am excited to continue working to find solutions to the challenges that we face in our state. Thank you to the people of Maine and to the election workers who made this election possible, and thank you to the people of Knox County for your support.

As your state senator, I’m here to help you find solutions to the challenges you’re facing. If I can ever be of assistance to you, please reach out to me at David.Miramant@legislature.maine.gov or (207) 287-1515.

Senator Dave Miramant represents coastal Knox County in the Maine Senate.

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