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NV conservation group supports FERC's transmission planning rule; Memorial Day weekend includes Tornadoes and record-high temperatures; A focus on the Farm Bill for Latino Advocacy Week in D.C; and Southeast Alaska is heating homes with its rainfall.

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U.S. Supreme Court allows South Carolina gerrymander that dilutes Black voters, Sen. Ted Cruz refuses to say if he'll accept 2024 election results, and Trump calls Mar-a-Lago search an attempt to have him assassinated.

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Smokey Bear thought only "you" could prevent forest fires, but decomposing mushrooms may also help, a Native American community in Oregon is achieving healthcare sovereignty, and Colorado farmers hope fast-maturing, drought-tolerant seeds will better handle climate change.

No-excuse absentee voting helps build voter turnout in ME

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Monday, October 16, 2023   

With less than a month to go before Maine's November 7 Referendum Election, more than 30,000 voters have already requested a no-excuse absentee ballot.

State officials say the ease of absentee voting helped Maine rank first in the nation last year for voter turnout.

Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows said while many voters still enjoy in-person voting on Election Day, it's important for voters to have choices.

"When we maximize the opportunity for people to vote, we increase the number of people who actually participate," said Bellows. "And the more people that participate in our democracy, the stronger our democracy is."

Ballot requests are currently lower compared with years past, but Bellows said that could change in the coming days as voters conclude how they'll vote on the eight referendum questions.

More than 60% of Mainers voted by absentee ballot in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since then, false claims of widespread voter fraud have forced officials to defend the long-standing checks and balances that ensure ballot security.

Bellows said that includes the required absentee ballot envelope, which must be signed before it's returned in-person, by mail or at a drop-off ballot box.

"That's what prevents people from photocopying or reproducing ballots and stuffing ballot boxes," said Bellows. "Every ballot has to be assigned with a verified voter, who has made an appropriate request from the clerk."

Voters can also track the status of their absentee ballot online to ensure it's been received by 8 p.m. on November 7.

With Maine's consistently high voter turnout rate, Bellows added that absentee ballots also help shorten voting lines on Election Day and reduce the demands on election workers.

Support for this reporting was provided by The Carnegie Corporation of New York.





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