Voters across the state will head to the polls Tuesday to make decisions ranging from who could be Maine’s next U.S. senator to whether to regulate roosters in the town of Raymond.

Voting places open by 8 a.m. Tuesday, and any lines should be short. Election officials expect a low turnout — something less than 20 percent of registered voters — based on a modest demand for absentee ballots.

No voter-discouraging weather is expected. The forecast calls for a dry Tuesday with highs in the 70s.

The headliner of the June 12 primary election ballot is the high-stakes U.S. Senate race — six Republicans and four Democrats are seeking to become their parties’ nominees. The two winners will run in November against each other and several independent candidates, led by former Gov. Angus King.

A struggle between Republicans and Democrats to win control of the U.S. Senate, and King’s entry in the race, have drawn unusual national attention to the Maine election. The winners of Tuesday’s primary are expected to receive a lot of support and money from outside the state.

Also on ballots around Maine:

Republicans in southern and coastal Maine will choose a candidate to take on 1st District Democratic Rep. Chellie Pingree in November. Maine Sen. Jon Courtney, R-Springvale, is running against Patrick Calder, a merchant mariner from Portland.

Republicans in central and northern Maine, meanwhile, will choose a candidate to challenge 2nd District Democratic Rep. Mike Michaud. State Sen. Kevin Raye, R-Perry, is running against Blaine Richardson, a contractor from Belfast.

About 40 legislative districts statewide have primary races, the first step in what will be a hard-fought fall contest between Republicans and Democrats for control of Maine’s Legislature.

Some communities will decide local referendum questions on budgets and other issues.

Raymond voters, for example, will try to resolve a dispute between two residents of Ledge Hill Road — one who owns 16 roosters and another who can’t stand the sound of them. The referendum question asks whether the town should replace its barking-dog ordinance with a new law that applies to all animals.

The 10 U.S. Senate candidates spent the past weekend making telephone calls, doing radio interviews, walking Main Streets and greeting fans at baseball games.

Both the Democratic race and the Republican race appeared up for grabs in the final stretch of the campaign. Candidates and volunteers who made telephone calls to party members over the weekend said a large number of voters were still trying to decide who they will support Tuesday.

With such a low turnout expected, the outcome could come down to who gets more of their core supporters to the polls, they said.

The six Republican candidates showed just how unsettled the race is during a live debate Saturday evening on WGME-TV — the final debate of the primary — by aggressively criticizing each others’ records.

The GOP Senate candidates on Tuesday’s ballot are former state Senate President Rick Bennett, Scott D’Amboise, state Sen. Debra Plowman, state Treasurer Bruce Poliquin, Attorney General William Schneider and Secretary of State Charlie Summers.

The Democrats are state Sen. Cynthia Dill, former Secretary of State Matt Dunlap, state Rep. Jon Hinck and Benjamin Pollard.

Staff Writer John Richardson can be contacted at 791-6324 or at:

[email protected]