AUGUSTA — Local election officials said this week that dozens of people are casting ballots well before Election Day as anticipation builds toward the Nov. 8 presidential election.

The high level of interest has been accompanied by some problems in Augusta and Somerville.

In Augusta, city officials issued 32 to 46 duplicate ballots because some voters not only requested absentee ballots before they were available, but they also either called or requested a ballot in person over the last few weeks, said Augusta City Clerk Roberta Fogg. She isn’t worried about any wrongdoing or about anybody voting twice.

“The people of Augusta have been wonderful, and so far, there’s been 19 ballots returned already,” Fogg said. “It just proves the integrity of our voters is at a level that ensures we’ll have a safe election.”

Fogg, who is running her first election as Augusta’s clerk, said there are several checks and balances within the system to ensure nobody votes twice.

“In order to receive someone’s absentee ballot, we have to review their application and make note of when it was received,” Fogg said. “Their first ballot would be accepted and the second one, if it was submitted, would be rejected.”


In Somerville, Clerk Kelly Roopchand said she received several online requests for absentee ballots that she deemed suspicious. The ballots were denied because the people weren’t registered voters or Somerville residents.

Roopchand said she’s also having a hard time finding election clerks to work on Election Day counting ballots. One registered Republican who’s been outspoken in criticizing Republican Donald Trump said she didn’t want to count ballots because she didn’t want to cast doubt on the validity of the counting, Roopchand said.

“The Maine Clerks Association has voiced both nervousness over Election Day unrest and indignation over the questions of vote rigging,” Roopchand said.

Clerks from around Kennebec County have reported an uptick in early voters. Nationally, millions of people already have voted, and some reports predict that 30 percent to 40 percent of the total votes cast this election will be cast before Nov. 8. Last week, the secretary of state’s office released data showing voter registration in Maine is at an all-time high.

Roopchand and clerks Lisa Gilliam, of Gardiner, and Rose Webster, of Farmingdale, said voters don’t want to wait in long lines on Election Day because of work or family commitments, so they are voting early out of convenience.

Somerville has issued a record number of absentee ballots already, Roopchand said. As of Monday afternoon, there had been 46 already, compared to 42 total in 2012 and 31 in 2008.


“In a town with a total population of 540-something, that is a significant number,” Roopchand said by email. “We typically have about 250 ballots cast in total during a presidential election.”

Gilliam said they have been “swamped” in Gardiner, with more people voting early than in the last presidential election, four years ago. She expects to have about 1,000 absentee ballots cast by the end of this week.

“There have also been much more registrations, and we’re expecting a much larger turnout,” she said.

Melissa Cantrell, of Gardiner, said she was picking up an absentee ballot for her husband, James, when she decided she might as well cast her own votes. She too expects a high turnout, so voting early was an easy choice.

“I’ve already made my decision, so I figured if I was going to pick up his ballot, I should do mine too,” she said.

Fogg said Augusta is doing a “steady, brisk business,” though the number of absentee ballots cast is “right on par with the same type of turnout from 2012.”


Fogg said she is approaching this election like past presidential and gubernatorial elections.

“You always take a little extra time to check and double-check a little bit more,” she said. “There’s always checks and balances, and we want to make sure the people understand how hard we’re working to make sure the election is open, transparent and available to all.”

She said the comments by Trump about the election being “rigged” or “stolen” or “manipulated by the media” bothers her and other municipal clerks.

“I’ve strived very hard to make sure people understand that this is a process that we hold sacrosanct,” Fogg said. “We really do work our hardest to make sure nothing happens.”

Fogg said that the election process is a human process, and humans “make mistakes occasionally”; but when they do, she and her colleagues make sure the mistake is noted and corrected.

Every election official in Maine is finding this an intense period of time, Fogg said, because of the level of scrutiny. But she’s confident in the system and the “completely transparent process open to public inspection.”


“We will do our best to make sure it’s run smoothly and that it provides everyone the opportunity to express themselves in the voting booth,” Fogg said.

Jason Pafundi — 621-5663

[email protected]

Twitter: @jasonpafundiKJ

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