While Tuesday’s presidential primary offers little drama, it will mark a couple of major firsts in Maine’s political history.

This is the first presidential primary in the state that will rely on ranked-choice voting, which means that if a candidate in either the Democratic or Republican primary fails to get more than half the votes, election overseers will need to check the ballots of the candidates that garnered the fewest votes to see who they picked as their alternative choice.

However, few expect the front-runners to fall short of the 50% mark.

The other major change is the advent of Maine’s new semiopen primary law.

The new law allows unenrolled voters — Mainers who haven’t registered with a political party — to vote in any party primary without the need to enroll in the party. They can choose which party’s primary they’d like to participate in.

It’s too late for enrolled voters to switch parties in time to vote in any primary other than the one for their own party.


The only parties holding presidential primaries Tuesday are the Republicans and Democrats.

In the Democratic primary, President Joe Biden faces a challenge from U.S. Rep. Dean Phillips of Minnesota, whose candidacy has failed to attract many followers in earlier primaries. There is also one declared write-in contender: Stephen Lyons.

On the GOP side, there are more choices.

Former President Donald Trump, who has won every preceding Republican primary or caucus except one in the District of Columbia, is locked in an increasingly bitter battle with Nikki Haley, a former South Carolina governor who served as ambassador to the United Nations during Trump’s single term in office.

Also on the ballot are three men who have already dropped out of contention and endorsed Trump: Ryan Binkley, a Texas pastor and businessman; Ron DeSantis, the governor of Florida; and Vivek Ramaswamy, an entrepreneur and author.

Maine has same-day voter registration so anyone who will be 18 or older before Nov. 5 who is not registered to vote can show up at the polls, pick a party and cast a ballot. They will need to provide proof of residency and identity, the secretary of state’s office said.

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