No matter how you vote, we’ve got you protected
By Aaron M. Frey and Matt Dunlap
We come from small towns in Maine. Born and raised in the communities of Dixmont and Town Hill, we both learned commitment to our neighbors and devotion to democracy from hardworking farmers, woods workers, fishermen, and the businessmen and working families that surrounded us. That background informs our shared commitment to protecting the fundamental right that allows citizens to register their voices: the right to vote.
This year, the election process has been obscured by doubt. As the COVID-19 pandemic spread across the world, our first task was determining how to run the primary election during a global pandemic. Also, the campaign season has brought out the rumors, suspicious innuendoes and accusations of tilting the mechanisms of voting to benefit one candidate or campaign or another. Social media has proven itself incapable of controlling the spread of political misinformation, of preventing bullying and intimidation and of holding those responsible accountable.
As the keepers of the election process and the enforcement of Maine law, we are here to assure the people of Maine of our complete commitment to the simple goal of ensuring that every eligible American citizen who wishes to will be able to participate in the Nov. 3 general election, with the confidence that their ballot will be counted accurately, that the process will have complete integrity and transparency and that they can be a part of this process without fear of the COVID-19 pandemic.
We know now that foreign actors spread lies online during the 2016 and 2018 election cycles, encouraging us to attack each other — and in pitting Americans against Americans, they tried to goad us into voting our fears instead of our hopes. Mainers should reject these attempts to divide us, and seek out respected, independent sources when determining how to vote in these critical elections.
As constitutional officers, we encourage people who receive confusing information about the upcoming election to turn away from social media and other unofficial sources of information, and instead turn to a trusted source: your local and state election officials, who are entrusted with providing timely and accurate information to voters.
Most importantly, voters should make a plan to ensure their voice is heard in this election. If you requested an absentee ballot and have not yet returned it, please do so as soon as possible, and no later than 8 p.m. on Election Day, to your municipal clerk. And if you plan to vote in person this Election Day, be sure to allow extra time this year, as the heavy turnout along with the social distancing and hygiene measures are expected to increase wait times.
Candidates are making their final pushes for support this weekend and, in places like Bangor and Old Town, and in Town Hill and Dixmont, proud Americans are debating the issues and discussing the candidates, as they prepare to vote for the hope of a brighter future. We’ll be here to support them.
Aaron M. Frey is Maine’s attorney general. Matt Dunlap is the secretary of state.