NEWS
11/08/2016 15:45 EST | Updated 11/09/2017 00:12 EST

The Latest: Clerks begin monumental task of counting ballots

PORTLAND, Maine — The latest on Election Day in Maine (all times local):

8:45 p.m.

Maine voters who feel the U.S. economy is in good shape are breaking strongly for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Those who consider the current economic conditions to be poor, or not very good, are breaking toward Republican Donald Trump.

Those are among findings of a preliminary exit poll conducted for The Associated Press and television networks by Edison Research.

The findings showed Clinton had strength among women, younger voters and those with a college degree. Trump was leading among voters without college degrees.

About 2 out of 3 Maine voters did not believe Trump was qualified to be president. About half of voters thought Clinton was qualified.

The findings indicate a majority of voters in Maine felt they did not consider either candidate to be fully trustworthy.

8 p.m.

It's all over but the counting in Maine. And there's going to be a lot of it.

The polls closed at 8 p.m. Tuesday in Maine, and clerks set about the monumental task of counting the ballots. That includes about 250,000 absentee ballots.

Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap says Election Day turnout was exceptionally heavy, and clerks even ran out of ballots at a polling site in Lewiston.

Dunlap said voters will easily meet his prediction of 65 to 67 per cent turnout among Maine's voting-age population.

He said so far everything has run smoothly, for the most part. He noted that voting machines failed in three communities.

Mainers were selecting a president and two members of Congress. Also on the ballot are referendums that aim to legalize marijuana for recreational use, overhaul elections with ranked-choice voting, expand background checks for gun purchases and raise the minimum wage.

6:50 p.m.

Out-of-state super PACS and the co-chairman of a global investment firm have dumped more than a million dollars into Maine ballot question campaigns and legislative races in the days before the election.

Maine political groups have reported $1.2 million from out-of-state sources since the last filing period ended two weeks ago. Democrats fighting Republicans for control of the state Senate got a $250,000 boost from groups including the Washington, D.C.-based Patriot Majority PAC.

National campaigns have pumped millions into ballot questions that could make Maine a testing ground for ideas like having voters rank candidates in order of choice. Maine voters tend to approve Maine's ballot measures.

Outside donors recently have contributed roughly $334,000 to expand background checks for firearms— including $250,000 from Bain Capital's Joshua Bekenstein. Super PACS have contributed $283,500 to legalize marijuana.

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3:40 p.m.

Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap says he's heard of no reports of voter fraud, intimidation or suppression despite concerns raised by the Republican Party.

The Maine GOP sent out a statement early Tuesday that mentioned "a rapid increase in chatter related to potential election fraud."

It complained about the state's lack of an identification requirement to vote. And Maine GOP Political Director Joe Turcotte encouraged Republicans to vote early so their names will be crossed off voting lists, eliminating the possibility of someone else voting in their name.

Dunlap said he'd heard of no problems late Tuesday afternoon other than voting machine failures in Lincolnville, Mount Vernon and Woolwich.

Mainers were selecting a president and two members of Congress. Also on the ballot are referendums that aim to legalize marijuana for recreational use, overhaul elections with ranked-choice voting, expand background checks for gun purchases and raise the minimum wage.

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3:20 p.m.

Campaigners for and against a referendum to legalize recreational marijuana use in Maine are making last-ditch pleas for voters as residents cast their ballots.

Both sides are making heavy use of social media to encourage voters to get to the polls and make a decision.

An affirmative vote would allow cultivation, manufacture, distribution, testing and sale of marijuana and marijuana products. Marijuana would be taxed at 10 per cent and subject to local restrictions.

Supporters say legalization would unclutter courts and generate tax revenue. Opponents are voicing concerns that it would make marijuana too accessible to children.

Westbrook resident Bonnie Jones came to the polls in her hometown to vote in favour of legalization so it can be more easily utilized "as a medication." She is a 38-year-old critical care nurse and says legalization would help the state deal with its opioid painkiller abuse epidemic.

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12:30 p.m.

Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap says Election Day turnout is "crazy" in Maine.

Dunlap is making the rounds at polling places across the state, and he said voters will easily meet his prediction of 65 to 67 per cent turnout among Maine's voting-age population.

He said so far everything is running smoothly.

The only glitch was a voter machine breakdown in Mount Vernon. He said it was being fixed.

The turnout is big even though tens of thousands of voters already cast tallies via absentee ballot.

As of Monday, about 250,000 Mainers had voted via absentee ballot. Those ballots, like those cast in person, will be tallied after polls close at 8 p.m.

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10 a.m.

The word on Election Day in Maine is that turnout is heavy in many places. Or, in the words of Portland City Clerk Katherine Jones, "over-the-top heavy."

There were long lines to vote in Maine's largest city even though about 7,000 residents skipped Election Day voting by casting tallies via absentee ballot.

The presidential race was top on many voters' minds. Voter Mark Anderson said it was disturbing to see America so divided and to see the race "approach Jerry Springer-like qualities."

Also on the ballot are referendums that aim to legalize marijuana for recreational use, overhaul elections with ranked-choice voting, expand background checks for gun purchases and raise the minimum wage.

In the 2nd Congressional District, about $16 million has been spent on the rematch between Republican Rep. Bruce Poliquin and Democratic challenger Emily Cain.

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8:15 a.m.

Maine voters are facing a number of ballot questions in addition to choosing their candidates for president, congressmen and the state Legislature.

Scores of voters flooded polls Tuesday morning before they opened. The Portland Press Herald reports by the time the polls close at 8 p.m., Maine likely will see a majority of its 1 million registered voters cast ballots.

Maine is one of five states considering legalization of recreational use of marijuana this year. There are also a slew of other referendum items on the ballot. One of the most contentious concerns new requirements for background checks for people who buy firearms. If approved, it would require the checks before the sale or transfer of firearms between people who are not licensed as firearms dealers. Failure to do so would be punishable by law.