The election may not be until tomorrow but plenty of ballots have been dropped off and, with the unusual circumstances of this year's election season, municipalities in Maine have already been given the green light to process the ballots received.

According to the Portland Press Herald on Friday, municipalities have received 477,817 ballots already via in-person voting or by mail.  This is such an overwhelming amount of ballots already received considering Maine has 1,063,383 registered voters and most voting happens in-person, traditionally.  It is also interesting to note that in the last General Election in 2016, 747,927 votes were cast all together for president in the State of Maine, according to Fec.gov.

Despite the processing already taking place, it is important to understand that processing ballots does include counting the number of ballots processed but not tallying up the results for us to know right now.  That information will be unknown until Election Day.

According to Maine law, absentee ballots can be processed up to four days prior to the election.  Under one of Governor Mills' executive orders, this had been extended to seven days if municipalities requested permission from Maine's Secretary of State, Matthew Dunlap.

In order to do early processing, Municipal Clerks need to do a few things different and start well before Election Day.

Municipal Clerks need to give a notice that they intend to process ballots early, which will include when the designated date and time of inspection of the ballots and processing of ballots will occur.  This notice needed to be sent to the Secretary of State as well as chairs of political parties at least 60 days prior to Election Day.

Where are absentee ballots until Election Day?  They are locked and sealed in ballot boxes, tabulating equipment or some other tamper-proof container.  Additionally, they are under lock-and-key in a secure place. They will come back out on election day.

So when will we know the results of the absentee ballots?  We will know results when polls close on Election Day.  There is no special way that this information can be known before then.

Until then, hang tight and enjoy a rest before the next round of chaos ensues.

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