“Voting is of critical importance to the strength and vitality of our system of government … for our democracy to work, we must all participate in the process. Please register and vote and encourage your family, friends and neighbors to do the same.”

These words are from the introduction to the State of Maine Voter Guide that can be viewed in its entirely on the state’s website https://www1.maine.gov/portal/government/edemocracy/elections_voting.html . Voting is a very special privilege and responsibility of citizenship.

In order to register to vote in Maine, people must be a citizen of the United States and at least 18 years of age on the day of the general election. 17-year-olds may vote in a primary election if they will be 18 by the day of the general election.

To register to vote, citizens need to fill out a voter registration card which that can be obtained at city or town halls or at any motor vehicle branch office. Most state and federal social service offices also offer this service and there are sometimes voter registration drives before an election where you may register. In Maine people may also register to vote at the polls on election day.

Citizens will need to update registration if they have changed name or have moved since they last voted.

Certain items must be presented when at the time of registration. People must provide proof of identity with an official photo ID such as a Maine driver’s license or Maine state ID. IDs provided by schools that contain photos may also be accepted as well as an valid passport.

Secondly, proof of your residence must also be provided. This may be a Maine driver’s license or Maine state ID or an auto registration, utility bill, pay stub, bank statement or a personal check as long as they show a current address.

If planning to register at the polls, please make sure to have these items. The registrars at the polls want people to be able to vote. They will do all they can to assist people. At the polls, voters will then be handed a slip to give to one of the clerks who provide the ballots.

Those with vision issues have options. There are machines at each polling place. Or, people may have someone go with them into the polling booth, such as a family member or a friend. One of the election officials can also provide assistance. This is also true for those who have difficulty marking the ballot.

Absentee voting is another manner in which voters can exercise their right and privilege to vote. Any one may request an absentee ballot. There are no longer any special requirements in order to obtain one.

Voters may call  city hall (207-767-3201) to have an absentee ballot sent, apply for one on the state’s web site, https://apps.web.maine.gov/cgi-bin/online/AbsenteeBallot/index.pl, or go into city hall and request an absentee ballot and vote right there or take it home, mark the ballot and return it to city hall. People may request one for themselves or for a family member.

If requesting an absentee ballot to be mailed, please do so now. Mark your ballot and get it back to city hall as quickly as possible. There will be a drop-off box located at the back door of city hall where citizens may deposit ballots. Ballots received by election day will be counted.

Ballots for the Nov. 3 election will be available at city hall around Oct. 3. Requested absentee ballots will begin to go out at that time and voters may start to come in to vote their absentee ballots in person.

The polling places in South Portland will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. for those who need to register and those who wish to vote. Absentee ballots must be delivered to city hall, not dropped off at the polling places.

District 1 votes at the Boys and Girls Club, 169 Broadway.

District 2 votes at the American Legion Hall, 413 Broadway.

Districts 3 and 4 vote at the Community Center, 21 Nelson Road.

District 5 votes at the Redbank Community Center, Macarthur Circle West.

Remember, the future is decided by those who show up. Please show up on election day. Vote your conscience and decide our nation’s future.

Carol Ann Kilroy is an Age Friendly South Portland committee member and Communications Sub-committee member.

Comments are not available on this story.