Just over 26 percent of Maine’s 1.06 million registered voters have already turned in their absentee ballots for the Nov. 3 election.

New data published Tuesday by Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap’s office shows that Democrats continue to far outpace Republicans and unenrolled voters in requesting and submitting absentee ballots. Democrats account for 212,239 of the 415,298 ballot requests, compared to 85,701 requests for Republicans, 103,715 requests for unenrolled voters and 13,643 requests for Green Party members.

The total number of returned and accepted ballots stood at 279,796. That figure eclipses — by nearly 30,000 voters — the 251,752 absentee ballots returned during the entire cycle of the last presidential election in 2016.  The ballots returned and accepted include those that were mailed to town and city clerks, deposited in ballot drop boxes, handed directly to a clerk or completed during early in-person absentee voting — usually at a town or city clerk’s office.

Maine health and election officials have urged voters to use the state’s no-excuse absentee voting law to avoid potential spread of COVID-19 at the polling place in November, and voters are responding in record numbers.

In August, Gov. Janet Mills also issued an executive order that will give election officials a longer period before Election Day to begin processing ballots, extending the window from four days to seven.

Voters have until 5 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 29 to request an absentee ballot using the state’s online request service. Voters may also request and vote by absentee ballot in the presence of their town or city clerk until 5 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 30.

Dunlap has estimated as many as 500,000 to 600,000 voters will cast an absentee ballot this year, heeding officials warnings to avoid possible long waits at the polling place on Election Day.

Maine will also have in-person voting at more than 500 municipal polling places statewide. Those polling stations are under government-ordered pandemic restrictions limiting occupancy, requiring widely spaced voting booths and other measures that will limit the total number of voters and poll workers at any one time.

The 279,796 completed ballots that have been returned and accepted also breaks proportionately to the number of requests by party affiliation. Democrats have returned 151,875 ballots, compared to 56,689 for Republicans, 63,111 for unenrolled voters and 8,121 for Green Party voters.

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