Absentee voting for the March 5 presidential primaries started Monday with former President Donald Trump’s name on the Republican ballot in Maine despite a pending challenge to his eligibility.

Republican voters will see five candidates on the primary ballots, including Trump; Ryan Binkley, a Texas businessman and pastor; Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis; former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley; and Vivek Ramaswamy, a biotech entrepreneur from Ohio.

DeSantis and Ramaswamy have ended their campaigns, but the Maine Department of the Secretary of State said Monday that it had not yet received notice that they had withdrawn from the race.

The Democratic primary ballot includes President Biden and Minnesota Rep. Dean Phillips. There is also one declared write-in candidate for the Democratic race: Stephen Lyons.

Voters have until Feb. 29 to vote in-person absentee or request an absentee ballot, which must be returned by 8 p.m. on Election Day.

The primaries are now one month away as Maine is still awaiting final court rulings on Trump’s eligibility to appear on the ballot.


Secretary of State Shenna Bellows ruled in response to a complaint from three former lawmakers in late December, saying the former president was not eligible under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment f the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits people from holding office if they have engaged in insurrection against the United States.

Trump appealed Bellows’ decision, but a Maine Superior Court judge sent the decision back to her for further consideration pending the outcome of a U.S. Supreme Court case that deals with a similar challenge out of Colorado. The high court is scheduled to hear oral arguments in that case on Thursday.

Maine law has a process for handling the death, withdrawal or disqualification of a candidate before the election. It says that votes for the candidate won’t be counted and requires the secretary of state to notify municipal clerks, who in turn must notify voters.

The primary will utilize ranked choice voting, so voters who cast their ballot for a candidate who withdraws or is disqualified still will have an opportunity to have a say in the race. If no candidate gets more than 50%, the last-place candidate is eliminated and that candidate’s votes are redistributed to their voters’ second choices. That process carries on until one candidate wins more than 50% of the vote.


The Supreme Court has said it plans to rule quickly in the Colorado case, but it’s unclear what would happen in the Maine election if the questions around Trump’s ballot access aren’t cleared up before March 5.


“It’s not a hypothetical we want to get in to, but it’s exactly why we’re hoping the U.S. Supreme Court provides some guidance that answers those questions quickly so Mainers and all Americans can have those answers before they go vote,” said Emily Cook, a spokesperson for the Maine Department of the Secretary of State.

The election will be held using Maine’s new rules for semi-open primaries, which allow unenrolled voters to vote in any party primary without having to enroll in the party.

Voters enrolled in a party must vote that party’s primary ballot unless they change enrollment at least 15 days prior to the primary. For the March 5 election, that date is Feb. 19.

However, since Feb. 19 is President’s Day, and most municipal offices are closed on weekends – and many on Fridays – the last day that most voters can change from one party to another and still participate in the primaries will be Feb. 15 or 16.

Voters who enroll in a new party may not change their party enrollment for three months unless they move to a new municipality and establish a new voting residence there.

Related Headlines

Comments are no longer available on this story

filed under: