“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 which you can view in total on the state’s website, Http://www1.maine.gov/portal/government/edemocracy/elections_voting.html. Voting is a very special privilege and responsibility of citizenship.

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In order to vote in Maine you must be a citizen of the United States and at least 18 years of age on the day of the 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, you need to fill out a voter registration card which you can obtain at your city hall 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 you may also register to vote at the polls on election day.

You will need to update your registration if you have changed your name or have moved since you last voted.

Certain items must be presented when you register. You must provide proof that you are who you say you are with an official, government issued ID such as a Maine driver’s license or Maine state ID. Identification cards provided by schools may also by accepted as well as an in force passport or birth certificate. Secondly, proof of your residence must also be provided. This may be your Maine driver’s license or Maine State ID, an auto registration, a utility bill, a pay stub, a bank statement or a personal check as long as they show your current address.

If you plan to register at the polls please make sure you have these items with you. The registrars at the polls want you to be able to vote. They will do all they can to assist you. At the polls, you will then be handed a slip to hand to the clerks to be given your ballots.

If you have vision issues there are options available for you. There are machines you may use in each polling place if you wish. Or, you may have someone go with you into the polling booth such as a family member or a friend. One of the election officials may also assist you. This is true if you have difficulty in marking the ballot as well.

Absentee voting is another manner in which we may execute our right and privilege to vote. Any one may request an absentee ballot. There are no longer any special requirements in order to obtain one. You may call city hall to have an absentee ballot sent to you, 207-767-3201 in South Portland, or you may apply on the state’s website, https://apps.web.maine.gov/cgi-bin/online/AbsenteeBallot/index.pl, or you may simply 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.

You may request one for yourself of for a family member. If you are requesting an absentee ballot to be mailed to you please do so now. Mark your ballot and get it back to city hall as quickly as you can. There will be a drop off box located at the back door of South Portland City Hall in which citizens may deposit their ballots. Ballots received by election day will be counted.

Ballots for the November election will be available at city hall about a month prior to the election. Requested absentee ballots will begin to go out at that time and voters may start to come in to vote their absentee ballot in person.

The poling 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 place.

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, our 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.

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