Bowdoinham town office. Darcie Moore / The Times Record

BOWDOINHAM — In-person absentee voting in Bowdoinham was suspended Monday when the town office closed due to a potential COVID-19 exposure. 

The office closed while town officials wait for guidance from the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, but announced late Monday evening that it would reopen 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesday, and apologized for the inconvenience. 

In an announcement on Facebook, officials said they were in the process of contacting anyone who was in the town office Monday morning. 

The news comes just eight days before the 2020 presidential election, as voters continue to use absentee voting — in person, drop off and mail-in — as a way to mitigate the risk of coronavirus exposure. 

Nicole Briand, interim town manager, said residents can still drop ballots in the secure ballot box or request an absentee ballot online, but confirmed that the polls were closed for early voting Monday.  She could not confirm whether the exposure came from an employee or a member of the public. 

Statewide, there have been 6,254 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19, with 82 in Sagadahoc County, according to the Maine CDC. As of Oct. 18, the most recent data available, there have been 10 cases in Bowdoinham. 

On Twitter, Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine CDC, said there have been more than 110 cases of the virus logged in just the past two days, including in places that previously had few cases. The seven-day weighted positivity rate is 0.67%, up from 0.49% last week. 

“That increase is concerning,” he said, adding that “There is a shift toward community transmission and away from growth driven by focal outbreaks.”

The Maine Department of the Secretary of State is aware of the situation and will work with the town as election day approaches, if need be.

Bowdoinham residents will vote at the Bowdoinham Community School, not the town office, this election, so the only potential impact on voting would be through staffing concerns. 

Kristen Schulze Muszynski, director of communications, said safety is always the first priority and for any town dealing with a similar situation, the next steps hinge upon test results. 

“If we’re getting into a situation where the election leadership team are unable to serve,” the department will step in and may be able to arrange partnerships with nearby towns, she said. 

That route is not ideal, as many town clerks are already busy with preparations for an election day unlike any other, but “the election has to happen,” she said. “It goes on, regardless, so we will figure out a way to make it work.” 

“We’re still eight days out from the election, so we’re counting on testing to come through for us to make sure election officials are healthy,” she said. 


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