Mainers will head to the polls Tuesday to elect a new governor, decide who will represent Maine in Congress and vote on a spate of local issues.

Along with helping decide which party controls the U.S. House and Senate, every seat in the Maine Legislature is up for grabs. The outcome of contests across the state will determine if Democrats retain control of the Maine House and Republicans keep the state Senate.

Mainers also will vote on five ballot questions, one of which proposes to increase taxes on higher-income earners to pay for home health care workers. The other four questions would allow the state to borrow money to pay for sewage system improvements, transportation infrastructure, and programs and improvements in the University of Maine and Maine Community College systems.

Polls open Tuesday morning across the state. Voting begins at various times depending on the community, but polls open at 7 or 8 a.m. in the vast majority of cities and towns. All Maine polls will close at 8 p.m.

Maine residents 18 and older can still register to vote, even on Election Day.

Voter turnout is projected to reach 65 percent of registered voters, a robust participation rate in a midterm election year. Many thousands of residents took advantage of absentee balloting to cast their votes early. By the time early voting ended last Thursday, Mainers had submitted 34 percent more absentee ballots than in 2014. Overall, about 140,000 voters had returned absentee ballots to their local election officials, and another 47,000 ballots that were requested had not yet been returned.

The governor’s race features a three-way contest between Democrat Janet Mills, Republican Shawn Moody and independent Terry Hayes.

Mills, a former district attorney, state legislator and current attorney general from Farmington, wants to expand Medicaid, fully fund the state’s obligation to schools and expand opioid treatment. Moody, a self-made millionaire from Gorham, says he wants to carry on Gov. Paul LePage’s legacy, reform the referendum process and reduce governmental red tape. Hayes, the state treasurer and a resident of Buckfield, wants to expand Medicaid, boost teacher pay and repair neglected roads and bridges.

A fourth candidate, independent Alan Caron, will appear on the ballot but withdrew from the race last week and endorsed Mills.

The governor’s race will be decided by traditional voting, which means voters only get to choose one of the candidates and do not get to designate second or third choices.

The races for U.S. Senate and House will feature ranked-choice balloting, however. That means close races could be decided only after counting the second or third choices of voters who favored candidates who were eliminated and redistributing the votes to the leaders.

Sen. Angus King, an independent from Brunswick, is facing challenges from Republican Eric Brakey of Auburn and Democrat Zak Ringelstein of Portland as he seeks a second term in the U.S. Senate.

In the 1st Congressional District, Democratic U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree is running for a sixth term against Republican Mark Holbrook and independent Marty Grohman.

Republican U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin is seeking a third term representing Maine’s 2nd Congressional District, which has turned into a key battleground in the struggle for control of the House. His race against Democrat Jared Golden and independents Tiffany Bond and Will Hoar featured the most broadcast ads in the country during the 10-day period that ended Oct. 25.

Voters across the state will also make choices on a number of local issues, ranging from school improvements to moratoriums on marijuana businesses.

In Portland, voters will decide City Council races, including the contest between longtime Councilor Nicholas Mavadones and opponent Joey Brunelle, as well as races for the school board.

Across the bridge in South Portland, a long battle over short-term rental rules will come to a head as voters consider a set of proposed regulations that would prohibit unhosted short-term rentals in residential areas.

More information on all the decisions facing Maine voters Tuesday can be found at pressherald.com. Use of the website is free leading up the election, and it features a tool that allows readers to easily read about the races on their state and local ballots.

 

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