AUGUSTA, Maine — By the time Election Day rolls around, tens of thousands of Mainers will already have cast their ballots.

Statewide ballots were being printed in Maine and the printer will send them directly to municipalities. today will be the earliest they arrive and midweek would be a more likely time of arrival, said Don Cookson of the Secretary of State’s Office.

A voter with an absentee ballot can go to a municipal office and vote in the presence of a local official, or mail or bring their absentee ballot to the town when the ballots become available. The ballots are then locked away until election night.

The Maine Republican Party’s executive director, Julie O’Brien, said absentee ballots are part of the party’s get-out-the-vote plan. She expects a spike in interest in the presidential campaign that has occurred since the convention to translate into heightened interest in absentee voting.

The Maine Democrats’ coordinated campaign also has begun an aggressive early vote campaign, said spokeswoman Rebecca Pollard.

The number of absentee ballots counted rose sharply between the last two presidential elections, from 76,672, or 12 percent of the total, in 2000, to 166,226, or 22 percent, in 2004, Cookson said.

Already, Maine has received 7,000 absentee ballot requests for the Nov. 4 election, he said.