Lewiston prepares for voter confusion from redistricting

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LEWISTON — Primary voters in June might go to a single polling place to cut down on ballot confusion over shifting boundaries for the state Senate, House of Representatives and County Commission seats.

“In Ward 4 alone, we have the potential for voters to have to pick from 21 different state ballots depending on their party and where in the ward they live,” Lewiston City Clerk Kathy Montejo said.

She said city councilors could consider using Longley Elementary School as the city’s only polling place for the June primary. It would let Montejo and her staff be on hand in case any confusion arises.

“The citizens we have do a great job, but this is a new situation with many changes,” Montejo said. “We feel it would be better to manage it in one location with city staff on site with our citizen workers to protect the integrity of the ballot and make sure each voter gets the right ballot.”

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The primary will be the first time Maine’s new electoral districts come into play. The districts were adopted by the state Legislature in June 2013 and were based on the 2010 census. Candidates are taking out petitions now to qualify for the June primary ballot based on those new districts.

Districts for the state House of Representatives and the Senate have been completely renumbered across Maine.

Lewiston’s state Senate seat, held by Democrat Margaret Craven, changes from District 16 to 21 under the new system. Auburn’s state Senate seat, held by Democrat John Cleveland, changes from District 15 to 20. In addition to Auburn, District 20 covers Minot, Mechanic Falls, Poland and New Gloucester.

“Those are pretty simple changes,” Montejo said. “Each city had one senator before, and we have one afterward.”

Lewiston actually loses one representative under the new plan. District 70 under the former map, held by Rep. Wayne Werts, D-Auburn, covered the southern parts of Lewiston and Auburn. It’s being replaced by the Auburn-only District 63.

“With me, I think they wanted to get it so I had one city,” Werts said. “I found it exciting and challenging to represent both cities. But I understand what they were trying to do.”

Werts said he plans to run for the District 63 seat.

In Auburn, the new District 62 replaces the old District 69 held by Democrat Brian Bolduc. The new District 64 replaces the old District 68 held by Republican Michael Beaulieu.

In Lewiston, a new District 58 covers the southern part of the city, replacing parts of Werts’ District 70 and Democrat Michel Lajoie’s District 71.

Lewiston’s three remaining House districts — Democrat Mike Carey’s District 72, Democrat Nate Libby’s District 73 and Democrat Peggy Rotundo’s District 74 — are replaced by new districts 59, 60 and 61.

“None of the boundaries are exactly the same,” Montejo said. “The addresses shift slightly for each one.”

New districts for the Androscoggin County Commission look to compound the confusion. The county currently has three districts — one for Lewiston, one for Auburn, Mechanic Falls, Minot and Poland, and one for the rest of the county.

A new charter, adopted by voters in 2012, divides the county into seven districts. Lewiston will get three districts and Auburn will get two.

Montejo and Auburn City Clerk Sue Clements-Dallaire said they were looking at city ward lines. Those changes would have to be approved by public vote at a City Council meeting.

“We’ve known this has been coming,” Clements-Dallaire said. “We’ve been working at it, but we really started getting information in December.”

staylor@sunjournal.com

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