Portland smashes early voting counts of the past two elections

Good evening from the BDN Portland office on Congress Street, where we are still tired after staying up late to watch the Cubs win the World Series (that feels weird to type.)

What we’re talking about

Across the United States, the divisive 2016 presidential election is projected to turn out early voters in never-before-seen numbers. And in Portland, with hours to go before the voting would stop, the number of early ballots cast was roughly double those in the past two presidential elections.

In 2008, 8,699 Portlanders cast early ballots, and 7,123 did in 2012, according to City Clerk Kathy Jones.

As of early Thursday evening, 14,385 people had submitted absentee ballots to the city, Jones said. 

Other Maine cities also have seen spikes in early voting. And this year, one in three Americans is expected to send in their ballot before Election Day, according to an analysis by National Public Radio.

This year, more Maine Democrats are voting early than are Republicans, as was true in 2012, according to the Press Herald. But it is unclear if that means anything for overall turnout.

During the caustic campaign for presidency, both Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump have encouraged their supporters to vote before Nov. 8. Trump has also taken the unusual step of asking early Clinton voters to switch their vote while suggesting the election is “rigged” against him.

Jones declined to speculate about what might have caused so many Portlanders to show up early to vote this year. But whatever it is, it’s working.

“There are probably another 1,000 people out there in line,” she said at about 5 p.m. — Jake Bleiberg

In other news

USM is investigating Latin graffiti as a possible hate crime — Jake reports:

The University of Southern Maine Police Department is investigating graffiti found in a student government office as a possible hate crime.

On Wednesday, students found the phrase “Deus vult” written twice in the Woodbury Campus Center. The Latin phrase literally translates to “God wills it” and is believed to have been used as a rallying cry by Pope Urban II in a 1095 speech that launched the First Crusade.

More recently, it has been taken up online by the alt-right to decry Muslims and by fans of the video game series Crusader Kings, which makes use of the phrase.

“This reprehensible act” is being viewed as anti-Muslim and investigated by campus police, USM President Glenn Cummings said Thursday in a statement to the school community.

Portland’s poet laureate is taking over as interim director at SPACE Gallery — Kathleen Pierce has some background on the guy who will be running the show at the Congress Street arts venue.

Bloomberg, NRA and other ‘dark money’ groups fueling Maine’s referendum campaigns — “Nonprofit ‘dark money’ groups have doled out about half of the funds fueling Maine’s five citizen-initiated ballot questions in November,” Darren Fishell reports.

Your election guides

I’ll keep these in the newsletter through Election Day.

Here’s everything Portlanders really need to know about this election — This includes municipal and local state house races.

Everything Mainers need to know before they vote — This includes referendum questions and other statewide races.

The Big Idea

‘How voter fraud works — and mostly doesn’t’ — Here’s an excellent, illustrated ProPublica explainer on the overblown claims of rampant voter fraud.

Got any interesting story ideas, suggestions or links to share? Email Dan MacLeod at dmacleod@bangordailynews.com, or tweet @dsmacleod.

As always, like BDN Portland on Facebook for more local coverage.

Dan MacLeod

About Dan MacLeod

Dan MacLeod is the managing editor of the Bangor Daily News. He's an Orland native who first moved to Portland in 2002. He's been a journalist since 2008, and previously worked for the New York Post and the Brooklyn Paper.