AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- A legislative committee is looking into whether Maine should allow early voting.
Right now, you can cast an absentee ballot in person up to 3 days before an election, but that is not the same as early voting. Some clerks in larger towns complain they have to handle each and every one of the signed envelopes that absentee voters cast and put them into voting machines. Early voting would allow voters to put ballots in the machines themselves, potentially saving clerks time. Deputy Secretary of State Julie Flynn said, " It's as convenient for the voters, if not more convenient, and it's certainly more efficient for the municipal clerks to process that number of absentee ballots."
Opponents say that early voting could be costly for smaller towns. Though the bill doesn't make early voting mandatory, they fear it could set up a situation where different towns allow different access to the ballot. State Senator Garrett Mason (R- Lisbon Falls) said, "I think the issue needs a lot of work. I don't know that we're ready for it. I think it's another cost that we're going to pass on to municipalities and I think it needs to be looked at."
Allowing early voting requires an amendment to the state's constitution. Two-thirds of the legislature would have to pass it, then it would go to voters in November. If voters agree to allow early voting, lawmakers would go back and create the statute laying out how it would work.