Maine Secretary of State addresses election concerns

Dunlap on absentee voting
Dunlap on absentee voting(Owen Kingsley)
Published: Oct. 7, 2020 at 4:48 PM EDT
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BANGOR, Maine (WABI) - July’s primary election saw a dramatic rise in voter turnout.

Safety measures were in place, and masks were highly recommended.

Secretary of State Matt Dunlap says as a result, there was no spike in COVID-19 cases.

“That was great news for us. It gave us the playbook we needed to proceed with the general election," said Dunlap.

Dunlap says the state now faces a new challenge, an increase in absentee voting.

“We’re up to somewhere around 268,000 absentee ballots that have been requested this cycle. We had about 42,000 absentee ballots in 2016. We’re talking number in excess of 6 times as many absentee ballots," said Dunlap.

It’s not too late to cast an absentee ballot.

Voters can drop off their ballots at their city or town halls or leave it in a drop box.

For those still waiting for their requested ballot to arrive in the mail, Dunlap has a message.

“Be patient, there’s a lot of ballots in transition right now. This is the week people should be getting their absentee ballots if they requested them in advance," said Dunlap.

With the expected mailing delay, Dunlap says the state is doing everything it can to get election results as soon as possible.

Normally towns may begin counting absentee votes up to four days before election day.

“The Governor extended that time to a full week so they can start processing the Tuesday before the election. That’s going to be really, really important when you have towns that are going to be looking at 25,000 to 30,000 absentee ballots or more," said Dunlap.

President Trump has brought up concerns over the potential for voter fraud with so many absentee voters.

Dunlap believes that the foundation is already in place for a fair election through the mail.

“It’s almost impossible to engage in election misconduct without getting caught. I don’t share the President’s statements at all. In fact I think they’re really misinformed. No two states handle their elections exactly the same way but all states put the integrity of their elections at a high premium," said Dunlap.

Dunlap encourages folks to reach out to the Secretary of State’s Office with other questions or concerns.

You can also contact your local town or city clerk.

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