Student Voting Guide | Maine

September 15, 2014

This student voting guide explains the laws for the state of Maine. If you wish to vote from your school address, check the student voting guide for the state where you attend school. If you want to cast an absentee ballot in your home state, check the student voting guide for that state.

The Brennan Center is committed to giving students as much information as possible to help you exercise your constitutional right to vote. More than ever in recent history, changes to voting laws are being implemented in ways that can affect your ability to make your vote count. In addition to the content you will find in this Student Voting Guide, we continue to track passed and pending voting law changes here. While we are working to give you up-to-date information, we urge you to be proactive! In order to ensure you have all the information you need before casting your vote, you should also check with your state and local election officials for information about additional requirements or regulations.

This voting guide was last updated September 15, 2014.

Registration

In Maine, you can currently register in person at any time, including on Election Day.[1]  The registration form is available online here. When you register in person you must bring proof of identity and residency (see Residency section below for details).[2]  If you register by mail or through a voter registration drive, your registration must be received by the close of business at the registrar’s office on the twenty-first day before the election.[3]  If you are 17 years of age and will be 18 by the next general election, you may conditionally register to vote (and may vote in the primary election); your registration becomes effective on your eighteenth birthday.[4]

Residency

Registrars may look at the following factors when determining your residency: home address, car registration, tax return address, mailing address, an address on your hunting or fishing license, driver’s license address, eligibility for public benefits conditioned on residency, a statement of your intent to reside in a particular place, or any other “objective facts tending to indicate a person’s place of residence.”[5]

At School.  Students can establish residency in Maine if they have a present intention to remain at their Maine school address for the time being, whether that residence is a dorm, apartment, house or even a hotel.[6]  Any other interpretation of the residency laws is unconstitutional.  Maine law defines residence as the place where you have a “fixed and principal home.”[7]  Maine courts have held that voting residency is equivalent to domicile.[8]

Maine has a “gain or loss” provision which states that no voter will either gain or lose residency solely because of their presence in or absence from the state while attending school.[9]  It explicitly states that it may not be interpreted “to prevent a student at any institution of learning from qualifying as a voter” in the town “where the student resides while attending” that school.[10]  Out-of-state tuition status does not preclude residency for voting purposes. 

You should be aware that if you register to vote in Maine, you will be deemed to have declared residency in Maine, which has consequences for drivers in particular.  Maine residents who drive in Maine must obtain a Maine driver’s license within thirty days of establishing residency.[11]  Driving without a Maine license more than ninety days after you have established residency in the state is a crime.[12]

At Home.  Students who lived in Maine prior to attending school and who wish to establish or keep their Maine voting residency (i.e., at their parents’ address), should have no problem doing so unless they have already registered to vote in another state.[13]  Like all states, Maine allows students to keep their voting residency even if they move out of the county, state, or country to attend school.[14]   If you are registered to vote in another state, you will have to re-qualify as a Maine resident by providing proof of residency before you can register.[15]

Challenges to Residency.  The registrar has the power to determine whether you are eligible to register.[16]  You must be notified in writing whether your application for registration is accepted or rejected.[17]  A decision of the registrar may be appealed in writing to the registration appeals board or to the municipal officers.[18]  A hearing will be scheduled, and you must receive written notice at least twenty days in advance.[19]  At the hearing, you will have the opportunity to testify and present evidence and witnesses.[20]  You can appeal the decision to a Superior Court.[21]

Your eligibility to vote can be challenged on or before Election Day by an election official or on Election Day by another voter.[22]  The challenge must be made in a signed affidavit, and has to be based on personal and specific knowledge or a reasonably supported belief that the voter is unqualified.[23]  If you are challenged you can still vote a “challenged” ballot,[24] and your vote will be counted the same as a regular ballot. The validity does not need to be determined, unless it affects the results of an election.[25] If it will affect the outcome of the election, the challenged ballot certificate will be submitted to the Supreme Judicial Court to determine its validity.[26]  In either case, a hearing will be held after the election to determine whether your registration is valid or should be cancelled.[27]

If your name does not show up on the voter registration list but you are a registered voter, you will be able to vote a challenged ballot.[28]  In order to cast a challenged ballot, you must fill out a challenged ballot affidavit with your name, address, party affiliation, and reason that you believe you are a registered voter.[29]  You will then be able to vote on a regular ballot, and the validity will not be determined unless it affects the outcome of the election.[30] If it will affect the outcome of the election, the challenged ballot certificate will be submitted to the Supreme Judicial Court to determine its validity.[31]  In either case, a hearing will be held after the election to determine whether your registration is valid or should be cancelled.[32]

Identification

Most Maine voters do not need to show ID when voting. However, if you are a first-time Maine voter who registered by mail, and election officials could not verify your identifying numbers (your Maine driver’s license or ID number or the last four digits of your Social Security number), you will have to provide proof of identification, either at the polls or anytime before Election Day.[33]

Sufficient proof of identity includes any current and valid photo ID, or a copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, car registration, non-photo driver’s license, rent receipt, sample ballot, utility bill (including cell phone and student housing bills), or other government document that shows the name and address of the voter.[34]

If you cannot show ID when you register in person you will have to vote a challenged ballot;[35] your vote will be counted unless it will affect the outcome of the election, in which case the Supreme Judicial Court will decide whether you are eligible before it is counted.[36]  In any case, a hearing will be held after the election on whether your registration should be cancelled.[37]

If your address has not changed, and your registration is complete, you do not need to present proof of identification.[38]

Absentee and Early Voting

Maine is generally a no-fault absentee state, meaning that you do not need to give a reason for why you want to vote absentee.[39]  The deadline to request an absentee ballot is three business days before Election Day.[40]  After that date, you need to provide a reason why you cannot vote at the polling place on Election Day in order to obtain an absentee ballot.[41]  Blank absentee ballot applications may be requested on the website of the Secretary of State here

Your actual absentee ballot must be received by the clerk before the close of the polls on Election Day in order to count.[42]

Registered Maine voters may fill out an absentee ballot in person at the county clerk’s office any time after ballots are available and prior to Election Day as a form of early voting.[43]  If you are not yet registered, but an eligible Maine voter, you may register to vote and request and complete an absentee ballot on the same day.

Maine does not generally offer physical locations for early voting, but the state has implemented pilot early voting programs for off-year elections in select municipalities.[44]

Last Updated September 15, 2014


[1] Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 21-A, § 121-A.

[2] Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 21-A, § 121.

[3] Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 21-A, § 121.

[4] Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 21-A, § 155; See also Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 21-A, § 111-A (pertaining to primary election eligibility).

[5] Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 21-A, § 112(1)(A).

[6] Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 21-A, § 112(7).

[7] Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 21-A, § 112(1).

[8] Poirier v. Saco, 529 A.2d 329, 330 (Me. 1987).

[9] Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 21-A, § 112(7).

[10] Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 21-A, § 112(7).

[11] Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 29-A, § 1251.

[12] Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 29-A, § 1251.

[13] Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 21-A, § 112(6).

[14] Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 21-A, § 112(7).

[15] Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 21-A, § 112-A.

[16] Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 21-A, § 121.

[17] Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 21-A, § 122(2).

[18] Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 21-A, § 163.

[19] Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 21-A, § 163.

[20] Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 21-A, § 163.

[21] Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 21-A, § 163.

[22] Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 21-A, § 673(1).

[23] Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 21-A, § 673(1)(A).

[24] Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 21-A, §§ 673(4), 696 .

[25] Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 21-A, § 696(1).

[26] Id.

[27] Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 21-A, § 673(7).

[28] Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 21-A, § 673(1).

[29] Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 21-A, § 673(1).

[30] Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 21-A, § 696(1).

[31] Id.

[32] Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 21-A, § 673(7).

[33]Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 21-A, § 121.

[34] Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 21-A, § 112-A(1-4).

[35] Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 21-A, § 121(1-A).

[36] Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 21-A, § 696(1).

[37] Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 21-A, § 673.

[38] Proof of identity requirements only apply to those registering to vote. Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 21-A, § 112-A.

[39] Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 21-A, § 751.

[40] Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 21-A, § 753-B(2)(D).

[41] Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 21-A, § 753-B(2)(D)(1-4).

[42] Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 21-A, § 753-B(3).

[43] Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 21-A, § 753-B(8).

[44] See Early Voting in Maine, Maine Secretary of State, http://www.maine.gov/sos/cec/elec/voter_info/early-voting.htm.