A month from now, many voters across Maine will get a chance to cast their votes in presidential primaries.

For Democrats, the race remains wide open, with a dozen contenders on the ballot.

Republicans, though, have just one candidate: President Donald Trump, who has changed his residence from New York to Florida since winning in 2016.

It is not only the supporters of the two major parties, however, who have reason to turn out the polls.

Every voter will get the chance to weigh in on whether to wipe out a new state law that requires vaccinations for nearly all students and health care workers.

In addition to the primary, both parties are holding caucuses around the state to select delegates for their state conventions.

“We encourage all Republicans to get involved in their local caucus and to vote in the March primary for President Trump to show their support,” said Jason Savage, executive director of the Maine GOP.

The March 3 presidential primary allows voters registered as Democrats or Republicans to select their choice about who should serve as their party’s nominee in the Nov. 3 general election.

The primary results in Maine are used to allocate delegates to the national conventions of both parties. Assuming a split result among the many Democrats, delegates will be awarded proportionally.

The Democratic ballot in Maine features former Vice President Joe Biden; ex-New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg; U.S. Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey; South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii; U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota; former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick; U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont; businessman Tom Steyer; U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts; motivational speaker Marianne Williamson; and tech executive Andrew Yang.

At least two of the candidates have left the race. More may follow in the next few weeks after seeing how they do in the first set of caucuses and primaries, including Monday’s results in the Iowa caucus.

The Maine ballot will not be revised to reflect the changing lineup of candidates.

The GOP and Democratic primaries are closed to anyone who is not enrolled in their respective parties.

Voters who are unenrolled, or have not yet registered, can choose to enroll in any party up to, and including, primary voting day March 3.

Mainers enrolled in the Libertarian, Socialist or Alliance political parties are considered unenrolled because their parties did not meet state qualification standards.

For those who want to switch between the Democrats, Republicans and Maine Green Independents, there is a 15-day waiting period before the change takes effect.

Anybody wanting to switch their affiliation among the parties must do so before Feb 17.

There is another primary on the horizon as well.

On June 9, there will be primaries to determine the parties’ candidates for U.S. Senate, U.S. Congress, state legislative seats and many county offices.

In addition to the primaries, Democrats are holding municipal caucuses Sunday, March 8, to select delegates for their state convention at the end of May in Bangor, where those selected will a adopt a platform and pick 24 of the 32 delegates to the national convention in July in Milwaukee. The other eight are entitled to slots by virtue of the office they hold.

“It’s quite important,” said Seth Nelson, the communications director for the state Democratic Party, both in terms of selecting delegates and “making sure we’re ready to win in November.”

Any registered Democrat can participate in a caucus, including 17-year-olds who will turn 18 by primary voting day, if they register to vote and enroll as a Democrat.

Voters who are members of other political parties must re-register by Friday, Feb. 21, to be eligible to participate in the Democratic caucuses. For more information online, visit mainedems.org/caucus.

People unenrolled in a political party or who are unregistered may register up until the caucuses.

Republicans are also holding caucuses, though the dates vary. Androscoggin County’s caucus is Saturday, March 7, in Lewiston.

At the GOP caucuses, delegates will be chosen for the Republican state convention May 1 in Augusta. The state GOP gathering will endorse a platform and pick its delegates to the national convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, in August.

For more information online, visit mainegop.com/caucus.

 


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