Amid Iowa's Caucus Issues, Maine Voters Are Pleased They Scrapped Them

Presidential nominations are now decided by primaries instead of caucuses in Maine. "Voters hated it," said the secretary of state

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As Iowa's Democratic Party fielded questions Tuesday about late results from the presidential caucus, Maine Democrats are breathing a quiet sigh of relief.

Last year, the Maine legislature voted to officially switch its presidential nominating process from caucuses to primaries.

"We see what happened in Iowa and say, 'Wow, that could have been us,'" said Maine Sen. Bill Diamond, a Democrat who backed the change. "The biggest reason why I thought we should get out of the caucus format is inclusion."

Maine Democratic Party leaders and other election officials say the caucus system was very time-consuming because voters would have to spend hours publicly showing where they stand on candidates by moving around rooms and talking to voters about their decisions.

"Voters hated it … having to spend half a day in a high school cafeteria," said Secretary of State Matt Dunlap, whose office oversees Maine's elections. "We got a lot of complaints."

Come March, voters will be able to show up, fill out a state-approved ballot and leave, just as they do in other elections, a process the chair of the Maine Democratic Party hopes will make voters feel comfortable and secure in light of the 2020 Iowa problems.

"We're really confident it will be a smooth operation here," said Kathleen Marra.

Marra added the Democrats, like Maine's GOP, will still hold caucuses in various cities and towns, but they will be focused on picking local party leadership, convention delegates and recruiting.

"People are asking me constantly, 'What can I do?'" she said. "The caucuses are where you can find that out."

Maine's presidential primary takes place on "Super Tuesday," March 3. The primary in the state election, for offices besides the presidency, will take place on June 9.

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