BATH — Midcoast town clerks anticipate a record number of voters this election, but they hope the high number of absentee ballots requested will help cut down the lines on Election Day.

Brunswick Town Clerk Fran Smith said she anticipates about 3,000 in-person voters, but isn’t certain because “it has been a year of unpredictable situations.”

If Smith’s estimation holds, the town’s 3,000 in-person voters will be just a fraction of the roughly 11,000 Brunswick voters who have already returned their absentee ballots.

“Historically, the highest number of voters we’ve had is 13,000, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we surpassed that this year,” she said.

Together, the absentee and in-person voters will total 14,000 votes out of the town’s 15,500 eligible voters will set a new record for Brunswick, according to Smith.

Brunswick’s 11,000 absentee ballots requested this year overwhelmingly tops the 7,000 people who voted by absentee ballot in the last presidential election in 2016.

Bath and Topsham reported similar numbers, tallying about 3,600 and 5,000 absentee ballots requested this election, respectively.

Linda Dumont, Topsham city clerk, said the 5,000 absentee ballots requested this year more than double the 2,119 people who requested absentee ballots for the 2016 presidential election. Dumont said she’s expecting “a record turn-out at the polls” on Tuesday but did not give an estimated number of in-person voters she expects to see.

According to Derek Scrapchansky, Topsham town manager, the town was waiting on roughly 500 outstanding absentee ballots to be returned.

Bath City Clerk Darci Wheeler said 50% of the 7,481 eligible voters in Bath have voted already, either by turning in their absentee ballot or by voting early in-person.

Wheeler couldn’t be reached for comment on Monday to say how many Bath residents voted by absentee ballot during the 2016 presidential election.

Record numbers of Maine voters opted to vote by requesting an absentee ballot this election.

As of Friday afternoon, Maine voters had returned 477,817 of the 522,962 absentee ballots issued by local clerks, the Portland Press Herald reported.

Smith said she’s thankful that so many people chose to vote by absentee ballot.

“I couldn’t imagine if we had 14,000 people coming to vote on Election Day this year,” Smith said, due to the COVID-19 restrictions.

Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines limit 50 people in polling location at a time and require poll workers to wear face masks.

Local clerks said they will also have hand sanitizer available, voters will be given a clean pen to use and signs will be posted to encourage voters to remain six feet away from others to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19.

Wheeler said she feels confident voters will follow the safety procedures set in place, because of the “great responses” following the July primary election.

“The safety protocols and guidelines haven’t changed since then, so we’re going to follow those same procedures,” said Wheeler.

Brunswick opened a second polling location this year to help cut down lines, reduce wait times and “maximize the number of people who can vote at a time,” said Smith.

Brunswick residents will vote at Coffin School and the neighboring Brunswick Junior High School. The schools share a common entrance and parking lot.

Bath voters will vote at Bath Middle School.

Topsham voters will vote at Mount Ararat High School.

Polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m.

Absentee ballots must be returned to town offices by 8 p.m. on Tuesday.


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