Maine Revised Statutes

§2528. Secret ballot

The following provisions govern a town's use of a secret ballot for the election of town officials or for municipal referenda elections. A vote by secret ballot takes precedence over a vote by any other means at the same meeting. [1987, c. 737, Pt. A, §2 (NEW); 1987, c. 737, Pt. C, §106 (NEW); 1989, c. 6, (AMD); 1989, c. 9, §2 (AMD); 1989, c. 104, Pt. C, §§8, 10 (AMD).]

1. Acceptance by town.  When any town accepts this section at a meeting held at least 90 days before the annual meeting, the provisions of this section apply to the election of all town officials required by section 2525 to be elected by ballot, except the moderator, who shall be elected as provided in section 2524, subsection 2.
A. The provisions of this section relating to the nomination of town officials by political caucus apply only when a town separately accepts those provisions at a meeting held at least 90 days before the annual meeting. If any town accepts those provisions, they remain effective until the town votes otherwise. [1987, c. 737, Pt. A, §2 (NEW); 1987, c. 737, Pt. C, §106 (NEW); 1989, c. 6, (AMD); 1989, c. 9, §2 (AMD); 1989, c. 104, Pt. C, §§8, 10 (AMD).]
B. A town may accept only the provisions of subsection 4, relating to the nomination of town officials, as provided in section 2527. [1987, c. 737, Pt. A, §2 (NEW); 1987, c. 737, Pt. C, §106 (NEW); 1989, c. 6, (AMD); 1989, c. 9, §2 (AMD); 1989, c. 104, Pt. C, §§8, 10 (AMD).]
[ 1987, c. 737, Pt. A, §2 (NEW); 1987, c. 737, Pt. C, §106 (NEW); 1989, c. 6, (AMD); 1989, c. 9, §2 (AMD); 1989, c. 104, Pt. C, §§8, 10 (AMD) .]
2. Designation, number and terms of officials.  At the time of acceptance, the town shall determine, by a separate article in the warrant, which other officials are to be elected according to this section, and may determine the number and terms of selectmen, assessors and overseers according to section 2526.
A. After the determination under this subsection, a town may not change the designation, number or terms of town officials, except at a meeting held at least 90 days before the annual meeting. [1987, c. 737, Pt. A, §2 (NEW); 1987, c. 737, Pt. C, §106 (NEW); 1989, c. 6, (AMD); 1989, c. 9, §2 (AMD); 1989, c. 104, Pt. C, §§8, 10 (AMD).]
[ 1987, c. 737, Pt. A, §2 (NEW); 1987, c. 737, Pt. C, §106 (NEW); 1989, c. 6, (AMD); 1989, c. 9, §2 (AMD); 1989, c. 104, Pt. C, §§8, 10 (AMD) .]
3. Voting place specified; polls.  The warrant for a town meeting for the election of officials must specify the voting place, which must be in the same building or a building nearby where the meeting is to be held. The warrant for a town meeting for the election of officials that occurs at the same time as voting in federal, state or county elections, but not at the same time as a town meeting held for other purposes, may specify the same voting places as those used by the town for federal, state or county elections. The warrant must specify the time of opening and closing the polls, which must be kept open at least 4 consecutive hours.
A. In the warrant for a town meeting under this section, the municipal officers may designate the date of the election and designate another date within 14 days of the date set for elections as the time for considering the other articles of business in the warrant. [1987, c. 737, Pt. A, §2 (NEW); 1987, c. 737, Pt. C, §106 (NEW); 1989, c. 6, (AMD); 1989, c. 9, §2 (AMD); 1989, c. 104, Pt. C, §§8, 10 (AMD).]
[ 2003, c. 569, §1 (AMD) .]
4. Nomination papers; caucuses.  The nomination for any office shall be made by nomination papers or by political caucus as provided in this subsection.
A. The municipal clerk shall make nomination papers available to prospective candidates during the 40 days before the filing deadline. Before issuing nomination papers, the clerk must complete each sheet by writing in the name of the candidate and the title and term of office being sought.
(1) Nomination papers must be signed by the following number of voters based on the population of the town according to the last Federal Decennial Census of the United States:
(a) Not less than 3 nor more than 10 in towns with a population of 200 or less;
(b) Not less than 10 nor more than 25 in towns with a population of 201 to 500; and
(c) Not less than 25 nor more than 100 in towns with a population of more than 500.
(2) Each voter who signs a nomination paper shall add the voter's residence with the street and number, if any. The voter may sign as many nomination papers for each office as the voter chooses, regardless of the number of vacancies to be filled. [1995, c. 102, §1 (AMD).]
B. At the end of the list of candidates for each office, there must be left as many blank spaces as there are vacancies to be filled in which a voter may write in the name and, if residence in the municipality is not a requirement to hold office, municipality of residence of any person for whom the voter desires to vote. A sticker may not be used to vote for a write-in candidate in any municipal election other than a primary election. [1991, c. 83, §1 (AMD).]
C. Completed nomination papers or certificates of political caucus nomination must be filed with the clerk during business hours by the 45th day prior to election day. They must be accompanied by the written consent of the person proposed as a candidate agreeing:
(1) To accept the nomination if nominated;
(2) Not to withdraw; and
(3) If elected at the municipal election, to qualify as such municipal officer.
When these papers and certificates are filed, the clerk shall make them available to public inspection under proper protective regulations. The clerk shall keep them in the office for 6 months. [1993, c. 608, §6 (AMD).]
D. A nomination paper or a certificate of political caucus nomination that complies with this section is valid unless a written objection to it is made to the municipal officers by the 43rd day prior to election day.
(1) If an objection is made, the clerk shall immediately notify the candidate affected by it.
(2) The municipal officers shall determine objections arising in the case of nominations. Their decision is final. [1993, c. 608, §6 (AMD).]
E. Notwithstanding this subsection, when the municipal officers determine to fill a vacancy under section 2602, which must be filled by election, the municipal officers may designate a shorter time period for the availability of nomination papers, but not less than 10 days before the filing deadline, and may designate a shorter time period for the final date for filing nomination papers, but not less than the 14th day before election day. Notice of the designation shall be posted in the same place or places as town meeting warrants are posted and local representatives of the media shall be notified of the designation. [1987, c. 737, Pt. A, §2 (NEW); 1987, c. 737, Pt. C, §106 (NEW); 1989, c. 6, (AMD); 1989, c. 9, §2 (AMD); 1989, c. 104, Pt. C, §§8, 10 (AMD).]
[ 1995, c. 102, §1 (AMD) .]
5. Referendum questions.  By order of the municipal officers or on the written petition of a number of voters equal to at least 10% of the number of votes cast in the town at the last gubernatorial election, but in no case less than 10, the municipal officers shall have a particular article placed on the next ballot printed or shall call a special town meeting for its consideration. A petition or order under this subsection is subject to the filing provisions governing nomination papers under subsection 4.
The municipal officers shall hold a public hearing on the subject of the article at least 10 days before the day for voting on the article. At least 7 days before the date set for the hearing, the municipal officers shall give notice of the public hearing by having a copy of the proposed article, together with the time and place of hearing, posted in the same manner required for posting a warrant for a town meeting under section 2523. The municipal officers shall make a return on the original notice stating the manner of notice and the time it was given.
A. The requirement for public hearing is not a prerequisite to the valid issuance of any bond, note or other obligation of a municipality authorized to borrow money by vote under any such particular article. [1987, c. 737, Pt. A, §2 (NEW); 1987, c. 737, Pt. C, §106 (NEW); 1989, c. 6, (AMD); 1989, c. 9, §2 (AMD); 1989, c. 104, Pt. C, §§8, 10 (AMD).]
B. If a particular article to be voted on by secret ballot requests an appropriation of money by the municipality, the article, when printed in the warrant and on the ballot, must be accompanied by a recommendation of the municipal officers.
(1) If by town meeting vote or charter provision, a budget committee has been established to review proposed town expenditures, the recommendations of the budget committee shall be printed in addition to those of the municipal officers.
(2) If the action affects the school budget, a recommendation by the school board shall be printed in addition to those of the municipal officers and the budget committee, if any. [1987, c. 737, Pt. A, §2 (NEW); 1987, c. 737, Pt. C, §106 (NEW); 1989, c. 6, (AMD); 1989, c. 9, §2 (AMD); 1989, c. 104, Pt. C, §§8, 10 (AMD).]
C. If the warrant for a town meeting contains only articles for the election of the moderator and one or more referendum questions to be voted on by secret ballot, the municipal officers may specify the same voting places as those used by the town for federal, state or county elections. [2003, c. 569, §2 (NEW).]
[ 2003, c. 569, §2 (AMD) .]
6. Ballots, specimen ballots and instruction cards.  The clerk shall prepare ballots, specimen ballots and instruction cards according to the following provisions.
A. The ballot shall contain the names of properly nominated candidates arranged under the proper office designation in alphabetical order by last name. It may contain no other names. [1987, c. 737, Pt. A, §2 (NEW); 1987, c. 737, Pt. C, §106 (NEW); 1989, c. 6, (AMD); 1989, c. 9, §2 (AMD); 1989, c. 104, Pt. C, §§8, 10 (AMD).]
B. At the end of the list of candidates for each office, there must be left as many blank spaces as there are vacancies to be filled in which a voter may write in the name and, if residence in the municipality is not a requirement to hold office, municipality of residence of any person for whom the voter desires to vote. A sticker may not be used to vote for a write-in candidate in any municipal election other than a primary election. [1991, c. 83, §2 (AMD).]
C. Any question or questions required by law to be submitted to a vote shall be printed either below the list of candidates or on a separate ballot from the ballot listing candidates. If a separate ballot is used, this ballot must be a different color than the ballot listing candidates. [1987, c. 737, Pt. A, §2 (NEW); 1987, c. 737, Pt. C, §106 (NEW); 1989, c. 6, (AMD); 1989, c. 9, §2 (AMD); 1989, c. 104, Pt. C, §§8, 10 (AMD).]
D. A square shall be printed at the left of the name of each candidate, and 2 squares shall be printed at the left of any question submitted with "yes" above one and "no" above the other, so that a voter may designate the voter's choice clearly by a cross mark (X) or a check mark ( ). [1987, c. 737, Pt. A, §2 (NEW); 1987, c. 737, Pt. C, §106 (NEW); 1989, c. 6, (AMD); 1989, c. 9, §2 (AMD); 1989, c. 104, Pt. C, §§8, 10 (AMD).]
E. Words of explanation such as "Vote for one" and "Vote yes or no" may be printed on the ballot. [1987, c. 737, Pt. A, §2 (NEW); 1987, c. 737, Pt. C, §106 (NEW); 1989, c. 6, (AMD); 1989, c. 9, §2 (AMD); 1989, c. 104, Pt. C, §§8, 10 (AMD).]
F. Ballots must be uniform in size. On the ballot must appear "Official Ballot for the Town of ....," the date of election and a facsimile of the signature of the clerk. [1993, c. 608, §7 (AMD).]
G. A sufficient number of ballots shall be printed, photocopied or otherwise mechanically reproduced and furnished, and a record of the number shall be kept by the clerk. The printed ballots shall be packaged in convenient blocks so that they may be removed separately. [1987, c. 737, Pt. A, §2 (NEW); 1987, c. 737, Pt. C, §106 (NEW); 1989, c. 6, (AMD); 1989, c. 9, §2 (AMD); 1989, c. 104, Pt. C, §§8, 10 (AMD).]
H. Ten or more specimen ballots printed on paper of a distinctive color without the endorsement of the clerk shall be provided. [1987, c. 737, Pt. A, §2 (NEW); 1987, c. 737, Pt. C, §106 (NEW); 1989, c. 6, (AMD); 1989, c. 9, §2 (AMD); 1989, c. 104, Pt. C, §§8, 10 (AMD).]
I. Instruction cards containing the substance of Title 21-A, sections 671 to 674, 681, 682, 692 and 693, to guide voters in obtaining and marking ballots and to inform them of penalties for improper conduct shall be printed. [1987, c. 737, Pt. A, §2 (NEW); 1987, c. 737, Pt. C, §106 (NEW); 1989, c. 6, (AMD); 1989, c. 9, §2 (AMD); 1989, c. 104, Pt. C, §§8, 10 (AMD).]
J. The ballots and specimen ballots shall be packed in sealed packages with marks on the outside specifying the number of each enclosed. [1987, c. 737, Pt. A, §2 (NEW); 1987, c. 737, Pt. C, §106 (NEW); 1989, c. 6, (AMD); 1989, c. 9, §2 (AMD); 1989, c. 104, Pt. C, §§8, 10 (AMD).]
K. When voting machines are used, the clerk shall prepare and furnish ballot labels that comply, as nearly as practicable, with the provisions of this section which apply to ballots. [1987, c. 737, Pt. A, §2 (NEW); 1987, c. 737, Pt. C, §106 (NEW); 1989, c. 6, (AMD); 1989, c. 9, §2 (AMD); 1989, c. 104, Pt. C, §§8, 10 (AMD).]
[ 1993, c. 608, §7 (AMD) .]
6-A. Candidate withdrawal; new ballots.  The following provisions govern the withdrawal of a candidate from an elective race.
A. A candidate may withdraw from an elective race by notifying the municipal clerk in writing of the candidate's intent to withdraw and the reason for withdrawal at least 45 days before the election. This notice must be signed by the candidate and must be notarized. [1993, c. 608, §8 (NEW).]
B. Within the 45-day period before an election, the municipal clerk may allow a candidate to withdraw from an elective race. A candidate who requests to withdraw within the 45-day period before an election shall notify the municipal clerk in writing of the candidate's intent to withdraw and the reason for withdrawal. This notice must be signed by the candidate and must be notarized. [1993, c. 608, §8 (NEW).]
C. The municipal clerk shall ensure that new ballots are produced, if necessary, to reflect the withdrawal of a candidate from an elective race. [1993, c. 608, §8 (NEW).]
[ 1993, c. 608, §8 (NEW) .]
6-B.  Inspection of ballots in an election.  Upon receipt of a package or box containing absentee ballots for an election, the municipal clerk may open the sealed package or box of ballots and verify that the ballots do not contain any errors and that the correct number of ballots has been received. The clerk may then proceed to issue absentee ballots in response to pending requests. Upon receipt of a package or box containing regular ballots for an election, the clerk may open, in the presence of one or more witnesses, the sealed package or box of ballots and verify that the ballots do not contain any errors and that the correct number of ballots has been received. Ballots to be used for testing electronic tabulating devices may be removed at this time and immediately marked with the word "TEST" across the front side of the ballot in black or blue indelible ink. The clerk shall keep a record of the number of ballots used for testing purposes and seal the record with the test ballots in a container labeled "TEST BALLOTS" at the conclusion of the testing. The clerk shall then reseal the package or box of regular ballots and secure the package or box of ballots until election day, when it is delivered to the warden at the polling place.
[ 2007, c. 19, §1 (NEW) .]
7. Specimen ballot posted.  At least 4 days before the election, the clerk shall have posted in one or more conspicuous, public places a specimen ballot or a list, substantially in the form of a ballot, containing the name and office designation of each candidate.
[ 1987, c. 737, Pt. A, §2 (NEW); 1987, c. 737, Pt. C, §106 (NEW); 1989, c. 6, (AMD); 1989, c. 9, §2 (AMD); 1989, c. 104, Pt. C, §§8, 10 (AMD) .]
8. Ballot clerks.  Before the polls are opened, the selectmen shall appoint the necessary number of ballot clerks as provided in Title 21-A, section 503. When there are vacancies after the polls are opened, the moderator shall appoint replacement clerks. The ballot clerks shall be sworn before assuming their duties.
A. On election day, before the polls are opened, the clerk shall deliver the ballots to the ballot clerks and shall post an instruction card at each voting compartment and at least 3 instruction cards and 5 specimen ballots in the voting room outside the guardrail enclosure. [1987, c. 737, Pt. A, §2 (NEW); 1987, c. 737, Pt. C, §106 (NEW); 1989, c. 6, (AMD); 1989, c. 9, §2 (AMD); 1989, c. 104, Pt. C, §§8, 10 (AMD).]
B. The ballot clerks shall give a receipt to the clerk for the ballots received by them. The clerk shall keep the receipt in the clerk's office for 6 months. [1987, c. 737, Pt. A, §2 (NEW); 1987, c. 737, Pt. C, §106 (NEW); 1989, c. 6, (AMD); 1989, c. 9, §2 (AMD); 1989, c. 104, Pt. C, §§8, 10 (AMD).]
C. Ballots may not be delivered to the voters until the moderator has been elected. The moderator may appoint a qualified person to act as temporary moderator during a temporary absence from the polling place. [1987, c. 737, Pt. A, §2 (NEW); 1987, c. 737, Pt. C, §106 (NEW); 1989, c. 6, (AMD); 1989, c. 9, §2 (AMD); 1989, c. 104, Pt. C, §§8, 10 (AMD).]
D. The selectmen shall prepare a duplicate incoming voting list for the use of the ballot clerks. The law pertaining to incoming voting lists applies equally to duplicate incoming voting lists. [1987, c. 737, Pt. A, §2 (NEW); 1987, c. 737, Pt. C, §106 (NEW); 1989, c. 6, (AMD); 1989, c. 9, §2 (AMD); 1989, c. 104, Pt. C, §§8, 10 (AMD).]
[ 1987, c. 737, Pt. A, §2 (NEW); 1987, c. 737, Pt. C, §106 (NEW); 1989, c. 6, (AMD); 1989, c. 9, §2 (AMD); 1989, c. 104, Pt. C, §§8, 10 (AMD) .]
9. After votes counted, ballots delivered to clerk.  After the ballot clerks have counted and tabulated the votes cast, the moderator shall deliver the ballots to the clerk who shall seal them in a suitable package and keep them in the clerk's office for 2 months.
[ 1987, c. 737, Pt. A, §2 (NEW); 1987, c. 737, Pt. C, §106 (NEW); 1989, c. 6, (AMD); 1989, c. 9, §2 (AMD); 1989, c. 104, Pt. C, §§8, 10 (AMD) .]
10. Election by plurality vote; tie vote.  Election must be by plurality vote. In the case of a tie vote, the meeting must be adjourned to a day certain, when ballots are again cast for the candidates tied for the office in question, unless all but one tied candidate withdraw from a subsequent election by delivering written notice of withdrawal signed by the candidate and notarized to the municipal offices within the 7-day period following the election. After the 7-day period has expired, the municipal officers shall call a run-off election between the remaining candidates by posting a warrant in the manner required for calling a town meeting. If only one candidate remains, that candidate is declared the winner and sworn into office.
If the meeting is adjourned sine die before a tie vote is resolved or the tie vote is discovered after the meeting adjourns sine die and more than one candidate remains, a new meeting must be called to conduct a run-off election by the method described in this subsection.
[ 1997, c. 733, §1 (AMD) .]
SECTION HISTORY
1987, c. 737, §§A2,C106 (NEW). 1989, c. 6, (AMD). 1989, c. 9, §2 (AMD). 1989, c. 104, §§A18-20,C8, C10 (AMD). 1991, c. 83, §§1,2 (AMD). 1991, c. 323, (AMD). 1993, c. 608, §§6-8 (AMD). 1995, c. 13, §1 (AMD). 1995, c. 102, §1 (AMD). 1997, c. 733, §1 (AMD). 2003, c. 569, §§1,2 (AMD). 2007, c. 19, §1 (AMD).

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