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Cape Elizabeth town clerk urges voting in person on June 8, not absentee

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Cape Elizabeth town clerk urges voting in person on June 8, not absentee

CAPE ELIZABETH — Town Clerk Debra Lane is encouraging residents to vote in person on Election Day because of a complicated June 8 ballot.

The ballot includes primary elections for governor, a state bond referendum, an advisory municipal referendum on parking fees at Fort Williams Park and the school budget validation.

"This election is unusual because of the school budget validation law," Lane said. "There will be two time-lines for ballots and absentee requests, and two voter lists."

Lane said state law requires that absentee ballots for the primaries, state and local referendums be available May 10. But ballots for the school budget validation will not be available until after the Town Council adopts the budget on May 25.

A recent emergency action passed by the Legislature, which will allow more flexibility in scheduling future school budget validation votes, came too late to help the town this year. It will allow a school budget vote to be scheduled 30 days from the date of council approval, instead of requiring validation within 14 days. This way, municipalities will be able to align their state and school budget votes.

"The change in state law does not help us in this election, but will next year if residents vote to continue with the budget validation referendum," Lane said. 

As for the election process, Lane said the cost to send out multiple mailings and separate ballots for the municipal and school votes will create additional costs for the town and demand more staff time.

Town staff will help run the polls at Cape Elizabeth High School on June 8, she said; the tax and town clerk offices will be closed to better accommodate voters.

"There are a lot of towns that close office hours to better serve the residents participating in an election," Lane said. "We don't have a large staff, and it is hard to try to be at the polls and at the office. We want what is best for our residents."

In addition, Lane said she is considering leasing another voting tabulation machine for the day to ensure the lines at the polls move smoothly.

"People may have the misconception that absentee voting is easier on us," she said. "That is wrong. They will also find if they wait until the end to come to Town Hall to vote before June 8 there will be long lines and a much longer process."

She said if residents cannot make it to the polls because they are unable to get to the high school or are going to be away, she absolutely encourages absentee voting.

Lane said she is hopeful residents will understand the effort and costs associated with absentee voting this June.

"When it comes to closing the office or processing extra work, we don't make any decisions quickly," she said. "We are still working on the details, but hope residents come out on June 8."

Amy Anderson can be reached a 781-3661 ext. 110 or aanderson@theforecaster.net