Poll workers in Old Town sign voters in on Election Day, Nov. 2, 2021. Just before 4:00 p.m., Old Town City Clerk Laura Engstrom said just under 1,000 of the city's more than 5,000 registered voters had turned out. Credit: Sawyer Loftus / BDN

Maine saw the highest voter turnout for an off-year election since 2009 on Tuesday as the controversial Central Maine Power Co. corridor referendum drove voters to the polls.

More than 396,000 voters cast ballots this year, according to unofficial results reported to the Bangor Daily News, surpassing the 2017 Medicaid expansion referendum. It was still well short of the record for an odd-year election in Maine, set in 2009 when nearly 570,000 voters turned out for a ballot question banning same-sex marriage and several other ballot issues.

Several other odd-year elections have exceeded 400,000 votes cast, including 2003, when voters approved a referendum to require the state to cover 55 percent of education spending and rejected one on tribal gaming and 1999, when voters rejected a ballot question that would have banned so-called “partial birth” abortions.

Results are unofficial until certified by the secretary of state’s office, and the total number of ballots cast will likely rise above 400,000 in the coming days as more than a dozen towns — most very small — had yet to report results as of Wednesday afternoon.

Maine has consistently recorded among the highest voter turnout levels of any U.S. state. But odd-year elections consistently draw fewer voters than even-year elections that feature either gubernatorial or presidential elections. Turnout this year was still down significantly from 2020, when nearly 820,000 voters cast ballots, but still suggested the CMP corridor referendum had energized voters in an election that did not include any statewide partisan races.

Voters soundly rejected the corridor in Tuesday’s election, with 59 percent of voters favoring the yes side in the referendum aiming to block its construction. The state also passed a bond question and a constitutional amendment adding the right to food.