We have government by the majority who participate

 This is House Republican Leader Kathleen Dillingham from Oxford with this week’s Republican Radio Address. 

Many of my colleagues in the Legislature are hearing from constituents throughout the state with concerns about the security of voting by absentee ballot, the safety of voting in person, and just as important: what’s on the ballot this year. 

While Election Day is November 3rd, here in Maine we have no-excuse absentee voting. That means that you can vote by absentee ballot if want to avoid voting in person for any reason at all, whether you have other commitments that day, issues around reliable transportation, or plan to avoid in person voting due to the Coronavirus. 

If you are thinking about voting by absentee this year, you are not alone. It has been predicted by the Office of the Secretary of State that in total, 600,000– out of one million registered voters— will vote before election day with an absentee ballot. 

You can vote early at your local town clerk’s office beginning at least 30 days before the election. You won’t need to complete an absentee application if voting in person, and I’d encourage you to contact your town office to ask about early voting hours. 

You may vote absentee at the clerk’s office as soon as absentee ballots are available. Absentee ballots are available at least 30 days before the election at the municipal clerk’s office. You don’t need to complete an application if you vote in person at the clerk’s office. The deadline to request an absentee ballot is 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, October 29, 2020. A voter may vote in the presence of the clerk during the clerk’s office hours until 5:00 p.m. on Friday October 30, 2020.

Any registered voter may request an absentee ballot and vote by mail, which can easily be done online by searching Maine Absentee Ballot Request. Make sure to use the Maine’s Secretary of State website which ends in .gov.

If you are going to mail your absentee ballot to your town clerk, do it right away, or drop it off at a secure location at the town office or city hall or turn in directly to your clerk’s office. 

I have voted here in Oxford for 30 years.  I believe deeply that exercising our right to vote is not only a privilege but also a duty.  As the daughter and wife of Veterans’, I believe exercising my right to vote honors those who have fought for and given their lives for me to have this right. For those of you like me, who plan to vote in person on Election Day, don’t forget to maintain a safe distance away from other voters and election workers, and be sure to arrive early. If lines are long, don’t let it discourage you and please be patient with the poll workers.  Remember that it will be a very long day for municipal employees that will be working at the polling station as well as for those members of the community that will also be putting in long hours to volunteer at the polls.  Don’t forget to thank them for what they do. 

I also encourage you to do your research, stay informed, watch the debates, and never be afraid to reach out to your State Representatives and State Senators to see how they stand on issues important to you. 

Whether you vote on Election Day at your local polling place, or decide to cast an absentee ballot this year, know what is on the ballot— nationally and here in Maine.

We all know this is a presidential election year as well as one of Maine’s US Senate seats, and both of our US House of Representative seats.  

The entire State Legislature, 35 Senate Seats and 151 House Seats, are open this year and every two years. 

While other states may have longer terms for state lawmakers, our two-year terms promote the need for elected leaders at every level of government to be responsive to the needs of our constituency. 

I along with my colleagues in the House of Representatives have an opportunity to meet with constituents, visit with local businesses, and continually strive to truly represent the communities which elected us throughout our entire two-year term. 

As someone who has worked with state legislators throughout my career, even before running for office myself, I know firsthand that staying connected with the people of our districts, whether on the campaign trail or in our official capacity, makes us stronger advocates for the people of Maine.  

The first order of business after Election Day for those individuals newly elected to serve in the Maine Legislature is to gather in Augusta during the first week in December to be sworn-in as Legislators.  These lawmakers then gather in a Joint Convention consisting of the members of the Maine House and the Maine Senate to elect four Constitutional Officers: the Secretary of State, the State Treasurer, State Attorney General, and the State Auditor. 

I am often asked how these positions are selected.  The officers are nominated by legislators.  They are then voted on by all the legislators. This means that whichever party, Republican or Democrat, has the most legislators gets to select the constitutional officers.  This is an important responsibility of the legislature but one that doesn’t very often get attention when looking at who controls the body.  

The Secretary of State is responsible for keeping and preserving the records of all official acts and proceedings of the Governor, the Senate, and the House of Representatives. Among other duties, Maine’s Secretary of State is also charged with safeguarding the Electoral process and protecting the motoring public by promoting the safe use of Maine roadways. 

The State Treasurer is responsible for recording, collecting and investing all of the state’s money.

Maine’s Attorney General is the chief lawyer for the state, who represents the State of Maine and its many agencies in court cases. Some of the areas investigated by the Attorney General are consumer fraud, suspicious deaths, and other major crimes.

And finally, the State Auditor is charged with examining whether funds are spent legally and properly, and that data systems are secure.

It has been said before that “we do not have government by the majority. We have government by the majority who participate.” Those words are from President Thomas Jefferson, and are as true today as they were in the earliest days of our Republic. 

If there was any question as to how much power the people of Maine have in our own state government, know that just one election— maybe this one— can change the entire balance of power in the State Legislature and all four Constitutional Officers. 

This has been House Republican Leader Kathleen Dillingham with the Republican Radio Address. Thank you for listening. 

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