AUGUSTA  — Election Day is still more than a month away, but many Mainers won’t be waiting to cast their ballots.

The state’s political parties are encouraging voters to apply for absentee ballots and vote early, as they did in the last presidential election.

In 2008, about 32 percent of Maine’s votes — 238,940 of them — were cast by absentee ballot, said Megan Sanborn of the Secretary of State’s Office.

Absentee ballots will be delivered to municipal offices by Oct. 5, and voters will have until Nov. 1 — five days before the election — to request them.

Unlike in some states, any registered voter in Maine may cast an absentee ballot instead of voting at the polls.

Absentee voters are a key part of political parties’ “get-out-the-vote” efforts.

Maine Democratic Party spokeswoman Lizzy Reinholt said phone calls to potential voters are being made from more than a dozen field offices.

An automated call by former Democratic Sen. George Mitchell also urges absentee voting.

Republican Party Executive Director Mike Quatrano said local Republican candidates are getting the word out that absentee voting is an option, and there’s a mailing program targeting people who have voted absentee and those who might lean Republican.

“There really shouldn’t be any reason why we don’t have a heavy turnout, at least on the Republican side,” Quatrano said.

As of the June primaries, the number of registered Maine voters totaled 914,435, according to election officials.

Unenrolled voters comprised the largest share of the total, 331,222.

There were 294,404 registered Democrats, 257,529 Republicans and 31,220 Green Independents.

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