Election clerks had two layers of protection Tuesday morning between them and voters at the Multi-Purpose Center in Lewiston where the majority of voters were wearing face masks. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

PORTLAND — Maine voters did much of their work ahead of Tuesday’s primary election, casting tens of thousands of absentee ballots as House Speaker Sara Gideon faced two other Democrats to challenge Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins in a race that’s critical to the battle for control of the Senate.

Ballot Clerk Gert Chasse counts some of over 4,300 absentee ballots at the Multi-Purpose Center in Lewiston onTuesday morning. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Three Republicans were also facing off in the 2nd Congressional District for the opportunity to try to unseat first-term Democratic Rep. Jared Golden. Also on the ballot are two bond proposals worth $120 million.

Because of the pandemic, state officials encouraged voters to use mail-in absentee ballots instead of voting in person. Polling stations open for in-person voting were quiet on Tuesday.

In the Democratic Senate primary, Gideon faced challenges by activist Betsy Sweet and attorney Bre Kidman.

Two state bond questions for highway construction and broadband expansion are on the statewide ballots.

Many local school districts also have their annual budgets on local ballots.

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