Dwight Havu wanted to vote Tuesday. He tried to vote. But the veteran Central Maine Power Co. lineman was unable to fulfill his civic duty because he was in the field trying to restore power to the thousands of Rockland-area customers who lost electric service as a result of Sunday’s early season snowstorm.

“I’ve missed one election in the 41 years I’ve been voting,” said the 59-year-old Havu, who lives in the York County town of Hollis. “I take this very seriously.”

Havu is angry because at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday night – polls closed at 8 p.m. – he got a call from his wife, Liz Havu, letting him know that the state, through an executive order of the governor, was giving utility workers in the field the opportunity to vote remotely provided they transmitted ballots to the Secretary of State’s Office using a fax or computer.

All a utility worker had to do was to go to the Secretary of State’s website, fill out a form listing personal information and have the state transmit a ballot to its remote location via computer. The worker would then fill out the ballot before faxing or emailing it to the state.

When he presented that as an option to his supervisor, around 7 p.m., he was told that it was too late to vote and that there was nothing he could do to help. By law, if a vote is cast after 8 p.m. it is not considered valid.

“I always vote so I was pretty upset that I wasn’t allowed to,” said Havu, who spent all of Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday repairing power lines in the towns of Union and Hope.

Liz Havu said CMP was aware of the remote voting option at 2 p.m. She only found out about it when she went to Hollis town hall to vote and the clerk told her.

She said her husband inquired about using the fax machine at the hotel where he was staying only to be told that it was not working because a utility pole in the area had snapped during the storm and hadn’t been repaired.

CMP reported that during the storm’s peak – Monday morning – more than 84,000 customers lost power. An estimated 166,000 CMP customers in 14 counties lost power at some point during the storm.

Emera Maine, which serves Downeast and northern Maine, said 58,000 customers lost power during the peak of the storm Monday morning. Lincoln, Knox, Waldo and Hancock were the hardest hit counties.

Thousands of CMP and Emera customers were still without power Wednesday night.

“I don’t know that his vote would have mattered, but every vote counts,” Liz Havu said. “Regardless of who won, this shouldn’t happen again. God forbid this wasn’t a hurricane.”

The Havus are staunch Democrats.

Secretary of State Matt Dunlap said he was made aware of the Havus’ situation by their legislator. Dunlap said he signed off on a proclamation from the governor’s office around 2 p.m., an order that gave utility workers the option of voting remotely.

More than 200 utility company workers from CMP and Emera Maine were able to vote electronically on Election Day, according to Dunlap.

Dunlap said his office already had a remote voting system in place to process ballots cast by members of the military and others living overseas. But he said the system was not designed to handle such an heavy influx of ballots at the last minute. The ballots that were cast will be tabulated and certified later this month when the final election tallies are due to Gov. LePage.

Gail Rice, a spokeswoman for CMP, said more than 100 utility workers were able to vote Tuesday from remote locations where they were restoring power.

Rice was unaware of Havu’s situation, but said CMP line crews realize that they could be called out an assignment at any time.

“People who work in our business understand that they could be called out for an emergency at any time,” Rice said. “It’s something that comes with working for an electrical utility.”

Liz Havu said she was told by her state senator, Linda Valentino, that she would work with the Secretary of State’s Office on developing legislation to improve the remote voting system used in emergency situations.