Janice Dunlap enters the Shaw Gym in Gorham to vote on Aug. 15, 2023. Maine voters will head to the polls Tuesday to cast ballots in congressional and legislative primaries and to vote on school budgets, local referendums and municipal races.  Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer, file

Maine voters will head to the polls Tuesday to cast ballots in congressional and legislative primaries and to vote on school budgets, local referendums and municipal races.

Polling places around the state will be open until 8 p.m., with opening times varying by municipality. In Portland, the polls open at 7 a.m. All absentee ballots statewide must be returned by 8 p.m. Tuesday.

The primaries are being held under Maine’s new semi-open primary law, which allows unenrolled voters to cast ballots in party primaries that were once open only to each party’s membership.

There are two races – the Democratic primaries in House District 118, which includes part of Portland, and House District 123, which includes part of Cape Elizabeth – that could result in ranked choice runoffs because they involve more than two candidates.

As with most primary elections, turnout Tuesday will likely be low. As of Thursday, 32,679 people had requested absentee ballots, and 19,596 ballots had been returned. Maine has about 951,000 active registered voters.

Among the most high-profile primaries are Republican contests in Maine’s two congressional districts. In the 1st Congressional District, political newcomers Andrew Piantidosi, of Cape Elizabeth, and Ronald Russell, of Kennebunkport, are vying to take on Rep. Chellie Pingree, a Democrat, in the November election.


The winner will face an uphill battle; Pingree, who is seeking a ninth term in office, has easily won reelection in recent years, and the seat is a Democratic stronghold.

The 2nd District Republican primary has attracted more spending and attention, as the winner of that race is more likely to have a chance at unseating incumbent Rep. Jared Golden, a Lewiston Democrat in his third term.

First-term state Reps. Austin Theriault, of Fort Kent, and Mike Soboleski, of Phillips, are competing for the chance to challenge Golden.

Donald Trump picked up an electoral vote in Golden’s district in the 2020 presidential race, and Golden defeated Republican challenger Bruce Poliquin with 53% of the vote after a ranked choice runoff in 2022. The Cook Political Report lists this year’s race as a toss-up.

Legislative races include three-way primaries for House District 118 in Portland and for House District 123 in Cape Elizabeth.

The Portland race features former state Rep. Herb Adams, outgoing state Sen. Ben Chipman and former school board member Yusuf Yusuf. Since no Republicans or unenrolled candidates are running, the winner of the Democratic primary will be the likely winner of the seat in November, barring any challenge from a write-in.


In Cape Elizabeth, former state Sen. and Rep. Cynthia Dill, former state Rep. Kimberly Monaghan, and political newcomer Michelle Boyer are looking to fill the seat currently held by Rep. Rebecca Millett, a Democrat who is not seeking reelection.

There’s also a competitive Democratic primary in Waterville, where three-term state Rep. Bruce White is being challenged by newcomer Cassie Julia. White has been criticized for his votes against key reproductive rights measures backed by his party, while Julia has been endorsed by Planned Parenthood and supports abortion rights.

Voters in Portland and other communities will also cast ballots Tuesday on school budgets and local issues. In Cumberland and North Yarmouth, voters will be asked to approve a $53.5 million project to construct a school for prekindergarten through first grade.

And in Saco, voters will weigh in on a $141 million bond to finance the construction of two new schools.

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