A primary primer as Maine voters head to the polls June 12

The primary election is next Tuesday, June 12, but we already know some of the names that will appear on the November ballot. Those would be the independent candidates who qualified by the June 1 deadline. Their names will appear on the November ballot in addition to those party candidates who win their primaries next week.

Instead of a qualifying primary, independents (technically “unenrolled” candidates) must collect twice the number of certified signatures as party candidates to gain access to a Maine ballot. All those who do so proceed directly to the general election.

For governor, candidates Alan Caron (Freeport) and Terry Hayes (Buckfield) are now officially in. Candidates Kenneth Capron (Portland) and John Jenkins (Auburn) failed to qualify, but both are reportedly planning write-in campaigns. If running independent is an uphill battle, running as a write-in is an uphill battle with a paving stone tied to each foot.

Nevertheless, Capron and Jenkins have until Sept. 7 to qualify as write-in candidates. Yes, qualify. Write in Tom Brady if you wish, but it will count for naught. An official write-in candidate must file a “Declaration of Write-In Candidacy” by Sept. 7. His or her name will not be printed on the ballot but votes for that candidate will count.

Write-ins must meet the usual criteria for candidacy for the office they seek. A write-in in a primary election must receive at least twice the number of votes as the minimum number of signatures required on qualifying petitions for that office. In the general election, a candidate must receive just one vote to win, but unless no one else runs and no one else votes, they are going to need a lot more votes than that.

Along with all the other challenges of a write-in campaign, voters must fill in the little circle and write in the candidate’s name. Spelling and penmanship count. Ballot clerks must be able to decipher the name with confidence for the vote to count.

Ethan Alcorn (Saco) is AWOL. He filed as an independent candidate for governor but does not appear among those listed by the Secretary of State’s Office as a qualified candidate, nor are there any official reports that he is out.

In the 2nd Congressional District, independents Tiffany Bond (Portland) and Will Hoar (Southwest Harbor) have qualified. Independents Dennis O’Connor (Oxford) and Danielle VanHelsing (Sangerville) do not appear on the Secretary of State (SOS) list of qualified candidates.

We salute the SOS for providing all this information (and much, much more) in a concise and readable format in the “State of Maine Candidate’s Guide to Ballot Access.” Here’s what we have to say about June 12: Vote! Vote you must. Vote you will.

There are beaucoup options in most of the statewide races. Why on earth would you stay home? People are passionate about politics on both sides of the aisle and in between. It’s free! It’s fun! Go vote.

There are a few things you should know about Election Day so that you do not go away disappointed. If you do not know where to vote, a call to your town office will solve that problem. The polls open between 8 and 10 a.m. (depending on town population) and all polls close at 8 p.m.

You may vote in the primary election at age 17, as long as you will turn 18 before Nov. 8, 2018. The deadline for voter registration by mail has passed, but you may register to vote in person up to and including on Election Day. If you are a new Maine voter registering on Election Day, you must have photo identification. A driver’s license, passport or other government-issued ID makes it easy.

New voters and those having moved to their current address since they last voted must also prove residency in the municipality where they are seeking to vote. This may be done through a variety of documents that include your name and street address, including a driver’s license, a lease, a state hunting or fishing license or your current income tax return. It should be noted that an envelope addressed to you at a street address is not sufficient proof by itself.

You may not change your political party if you register on Election Day, but you may declare a party if you are currently unenrolled. If you declare a party on Election Day, you may not unenroll until three months after you enroll.

Not sure of your status? Get online and check the SOS “State of Maine Voter Guide.” Then gather up your photo ID and proof of residency and head for the polls. There will be people there to help you. The goal is to get people voting, not prevent them from doing so. Vote, and make the world your own kind of better place.

Jill Goldthwait

Jill Goldthwait

Jill Goldthwait worked for 25 years as a registered nurse at Mount Desert Island Hospital. She has served as a Bar Harbor town councilor and as an independent state senator from Hancock County.

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