Voters stream into the Woodfords Club in Portland on Tuesday morning a few minutes after the polls opened at 7 a.m. Credit: Troy R. Bennett

There’s an election Tuesday, and it’s going to be a doozy.

In addition to Democratic and Republican primaries to choose their candidates for the contest to become Maine’s next governor — as well as a Democratic primary in the 2nd Congressional District and more than a dozen legislative primaries — there’s a new voting method at play and a question, which some people say is confusing, on whether that method will be used in future elections.

We know: You don’t pay much attention to politics but you don’t want to go to the polls uninformed. So here’s a crash course that’s designed to provide what you need in an easy-to-use format.

Let’s start with where you vote

Secretary of State Matt Dunlap’s office has a wealth of information on its website, including this nifty online voter information lookup service. Enter your address to see your polling place and contact information for your local election officials, who can tell you about local races.

Party registration matters

Tuesday’s primary election will finalize who will compete in the general election in November. Although the primary will determine which candidate will represent each party, the state oversees the process.

If you’re a Republican, you’ll see only Republicans on your ballot, and you will decisions to make only if there is more than one competing in any race. The same goes for Democrats, Green Independents and Libertarians.

If you’re not registered in a party, you can register at your polling place on Election Day to vote in whichever party you choose. If you’re registered the party, you cannot switch to another party in time for Tuesday’s vote because the deadline for that has passed.

The ballots

Statewide: Unless you’re an independent, you’ll be voting in the gubernatorial primaries. There are seven Democrats and four Republicans vying for their party’s nomination. You can read all about them and a range of other topics at the Bangor Daily News 2018 Election page. There is also a referendum question about ranked-choice voting, but more on that later.

By congressional district: In addition to what party you’re registered in, your ballot will look different depending on which congressional district you’re in. You can find that with the voter information lookup service mentioned above. If you’re a 2nd District Democrat, there is a three-way primary for the nomination to run against incumbent U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin in the November election. The candidates are Jared Golden, Lucas St. Clair and Craig Olson. Here’s a recent BDN profile of the race and here’s coverage of a recent debate among the candidates.

By legislative district: There are a number of primaries for legislative seats. Finding out whether you’ll see any on your ballot is tricky and your best bet is to go to your municipal office Monday and ask to see a sample ballot. There is a spreadsheet of all the primary candidates on the secretary of state’s website but you’ll need to know your legislative district (from that online tool we keep mentioning) and study the abbreviations guide to be able to read the spreadsheet.

Alert: There’s a guy on the ballot who can’t win

Voters across Maine will see Republican Max Linn on the ballot versus Eric Brakey for the nomination to run against independent U.S. Sen. Angus King and Democrat Zak Ringlestein in November. Because of problems with his ballot access paperwork, Linn was deemed ineligible for the primary election. He lost an appeal in U.S. District Court on Friday, so any votes cast for Linn will be counted as blanks.

How to ranked-choice vote

This is maybe not as complicated as you think. Click here to see a Bangor Daily News explanation of how to use a ranked-choice ballot. Click here to see the secretary of state’s resource page. If you don’t like reading, click here to see an animated explainer from Dunlap.

The referendum question on ranked-choice voting

It reads as follows: “Do you want to reject the parts of a new law that would delay the use of ranked-choice voting in the election of candidates for any state or federal office until 2022, and then retain the method only if the constitution is amended by December 1, 2021, to allow ranked-choice voting for candidates in state elections?”

The explanation: Check out the BDN’s ranked-choice voting coverage by clicking here. Basically, ranked-choice voting was enacted in the 2016 referendum but quickly ran into turbulence in the Legislature and the courts. Last year, the Legislature enacted a law that requires an amendment to the Maine Constitution by 2021 or ranked-choice voting will be repealed. Supporters of RCV launched a successful people’s veto petition to cancel that law, which is why there is a referendum question on Tuesday’s ballot.

What your vote means: A “yes” vote means you want to cancel the law passed by the Legislature last year and revert to the original version passed by voters. A “no” vote means you want ranked-choice voting to stop until and unless there is a constitutional fix.

The results

Follow the BDN’s Election Central throughout the day Tuesday for the latest information regarding results, analyses and more.

Still have questions?

Email and we’ll try to help.

For a roundup of Maine political news, click here for the Daily Brief. Click here to get Maine’s only newsletter on state politics via email on weekday mornings.

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Christopher Cousins

Christopher Cousins has worked as a journalist in Maine for more than 15 years and covered state government for numerous media organizations before joining the Bangor Daily News in 2009.