AUGUSTA — Voters will decide city council races in Augusta and Hallowell and the fate of state borrowing proposals at the polls Tuesday.

In Augusta, four candidates are squaring off for two available at-large seats on the City Council. Incumbent Cecil Munson is seeking to return to the council for a third term, but will face challenges from former Councilor Mary Mayo-Wescott, former state legislator, treasurer and head of the Maine State Housing Authority Dale McCormick, and political newcomer Tom Connors.

The two candidates who get the most votes take the two at-large positions. Other Augusta races are uncontested.

Hallowell also has one officially contested race on the local ballot Tuesday. George Lapointe and Andrew McPherson are both seeking an at-large seat on the Hallowell City Council. Other Hallowell races on the ballot are uncontested, although Dawn Gallagher, who is on the ballot for one of two seats representing Hallowell on the Regional School Unit 2 school board, is challenged for the seat by write-in candidate Chris Vallee.

In many communities, including Augusta, voters will be voting for the first time on new electronic vote-counting machines.

For most voters, the new DS 200 voting machines will require them to do nothing more than insert their ballots, just like they have with the previous voting machines, according to Augusta City Clerk Barbara Wardwell. However, if a voter makes a mistake on the ballot, the new machines will alert the voter via a video screen, and give them a chance to correct the error. If a voter doesn’t vote in one of the races on the ballot, for example, the machine will alert the voter and give them a chance to fill in their missing vote. Or they can choose to not vote in that race and submit their ballot as is.

“It’s real simple,” Wardwell said of voting with the new machines. “They deposit the ballot and (the machine) will accept it. If there are any problems, the screen will tell them what’s wrong.”

Wardwell said the number of absentee ballots the city has given out and received so far indicate voter turnout will be low Tuesday.

The city typically gets around 5,000 to 6,000 voters for most elections, but Wardwell anticipates only around 3,000 will turn out today. Augusta gave out about 750 absentee ballots for the election.

The new machines are being used in all municaplities where voting machines were used previously. A demonstration of how to use the machines is online at www.youtube.com/watch?v=6y5Nta4G3v8.

Voters statewide will decide the fate of five state bond questions.

Question 1: $14 million for the state’s share of maintenance, modernization and energy efficiency projects for Maine Army National Guard readiness centers and the purchase of land for training.

Question 2: $15.5 million to update laboratory and classroom facilities of the University of Maine System.

Question 3: $100 million for reconstruction and rehabilitation of highways and bridges, as well as for facilities and equipment related to ports, harbors, marine transportation, freight and passenger railroads, aviation and transit, to match an estimated $154 million in federal and other funds.

Question 4: $4.5 million for a public-private partnership to build a new science facility at Maine Maritime Academy, to be matched by other funds.

Question 5: $15.5 million to upgrade buildings, classrooms and laboratories on the seven campuses of the Maine Community College System to increase the system’s capacity to serve more students through expanded programs in health care, precision machining, information technology, criminal justice and other programs.

Gov. Paul LePage, in a press release Monday, said the $100 million transportation bond would create jobs and make Maine more attractive to employers, and the $14 million for Maine Army National Guard facilities would help update buildings built in the 1950s. He encouraged Mainers to be active, engaged citizens by informing themselves about the issues and voting.

Keith Edwards – 621-5647

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