One thing is increasingly clear about the turnout Tuesday, Nov. 6 in Maine. A lot of people will be voting – likely more than those in the 2012 presidential election year and closely rivaling those who voted in 2016. And certainly more voters than local town clerks have seen in an off-year election in some time.

Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap is predicting 65 percent of all registered voters will cast ballots Tuesday. That’s more than the 62 percent who voted in 2012 and close to the 72 percent who cast ballots in 2016.

“We’re expecting a strong turnout again this Election Day,” said Dunlap, noting Mainers are going to be electing candidates from governor and U.S. Senate, down to state legislators and county commissioners. In addition to local ballot measures, there is also a state ballot with four bond issues and a citizens initiative. “The future of our state is shaped by whoever turns out to cast a ballot.”

Part of the reason for his prediction has to do with the large numbers of absentee ballots requested this cycle. Earlier this week, prior to the Nov. 1 deadline, the Secretary of State’s office reported more than 173,000 absentee ballots requested; during the 2014 gubernatorial election, 140,000 had been requested.

That’s certainly been borne out in Eliot, said Town Clerk Wendy Rawski. As of Wednesday, she said 1,185 of the town’s 5,992 registered voters requested an absentee ballot. In November 2014, her office issued a total of 590. “These numbers really put things into perspective.”

In York, 4,510 absentee ballots were issued by the end of the day Nov. 1, and Town Clerk Mary-Anne Szeniawski expects another 4,000 people to cast ballots Nov. 6. York has 11,731 registered voters. That includes 162 new voter registrations in the last 30 days. In Maine, people can register on Election Day, as well, so that number is expected to grow.

“It’s an upside down time,” Szeniawski said. “People are ramping up, including ramping up to vote. It’s an active time for many people.”

The most recent statewide poll, put out by Emerson College earlier this week, suggests a clear victory to U.S. Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, and District 1 U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, who both command a lead of more than 50 percent of all votes cast.

In the governor’s race, the poll gives the nod to Democrat Janet Mills by 8 points over Republican Shawn Moody – 49.7 to 41.7, respectively. These numbers are similar to a poll conducted in the first week of October by Pan Atlantic Research of Portland, which also put Mills up by 8 points. Both polls had a margin of error of 3.5 to 4 percent.

The Emerson poll did not specify candidate Terry Hayes, the only independent remaining in the race since Alan Caron dropped out earlier this week. Instead, it offered a “someone else” option, which garnered 5 percent of respondents. 3.6 percent were undecided.

Voters also will face a 5-question state ballot. The most controversial is Question 1, which asks voters if they want to fund home health care for the elderly and disabled through a 3.8 percent hike in payroll and non-wage income tax on individuals and families.

No polling has been undertaken recently to determine voter mood on this question, but it has been hotly contested with those opposed and those in favor raising more than $1 million. If passed, the measure would set up a nine-member board elected by people in the industry as well as those receiving the service, which would spend the estimated $300 million that would be garnered from the tax.

Proponents say it would provide a living wage to those working in the home care field and therefore there would be enough workers to meet the demand of an aging state. Opponents, which include several medical associations and the Maine State Chamber of Commerce, say it will set up a burdensome bureaucracy that is not accountable to taxpayers.

The remaining four questions are all bond proposals, seeking funds for wastewater and transportation infrastructure, the University of Maine system and the state’s seven community colleges.

Local issues could also draw people to the polls. Nonbinding referendums on the retail sale of marijuana are on the ballots in Eliot and Kittery, and South Berwick councilors are asking voters to fill out a survey on the same question.

The Legislature overrode a Gov. Paul LePage veto to pass a recreational marijuana legalization law last May. The final law has changed in some key respects from the citizens referendum passed in 2016. It sets up a framework for retail sales, which includes a 10 percent sales tax. In addition, there would be a 21.5 percent excise tax on wholesale marijuana that would be paid by processors and retailers.

However, an initial provision that would have allowed for municipalities to receive a portion of those taxes was removed in the final legislation. Kittery Town Council Chairman Ken Lemont in August said it’s important for voters to understand that all the money will be going to the state.

The language for the nonbinding question in Eliot and Kittery is nearly identical. Voters in Kittery are asked if the town should allow a limited number of “non-medical, adult-use marijuana retail stores” in commercial zones. Eliot asks voters if they want the town to create licensing standards that would allow retail stores to sell recreational marijuana to adults.

The South Berwick Town Council took a different route, instead deciding to hand out a survey to voters on Election Day. The survey is divided into two sections. The first asks voters if they support or oppose adult-use manufacturing, cultivation and testing facilities, as well as retail marijuana stores. The second asks essentially the same questions but about medical marijuana.

In York, voters voted 1,733 to 619 in May 2017 to ban all retail operations in town.

But York is not without its own high-profile question on the ballot. Question 2, asking voters to adopt a stewardship plan for the York River and approve its inclusion into the national Wild and Scenic Partnership program, has become a controversial measure.

Designation into the Wild and Scenic program will allow for a group of local residents with advice from National Park Service staff to seek federal grant funding. Recommendations in the plan could also serve as the basis for new or revised local ordinances.

Opponents say they worry about federal overreach, more restrictive town ordinances and increased use of the river once it is designated a Wild and Scenic Partnership river – among other issues. They have mounted a strong letter to the editor campaign, attended most selectmen’s meetings to voice their concerns, and started a Facebook page in a concerted effort to get their message out to the broader York community.

Proponents include the York River Study Committee, which has worked the past 2.5 years on the stewardship plan. They stress the stewardship plan is a blueprint to ensure the future health of the river, which will face pressures from invasive species, sea level rise and climate change. And they stress all recommendations in the plan are advisory only.

Interestingly, the same measure is on the ballot in Eliot, where there has been no controversy surround the measure. The York River watershed is in the four towns of York, Eliot, South Berwick and Kittery. South Berwick and Kittery have not yet taken action.

In addition, state representative and Senate races are also on the ballot:

*House District 1 (most of Kittery): incumbent Democrat Deane Rykerson and Green Independent candidate Andrew Howard

*House District 2 (Eliot, parts of Kittery and South Berwick): Democrat Michele Meyer and Republican Daniel Ammons

*House District 3 (most of York): incumbent Democrat Lydia Blume and Republican Allyson Cavaretta

*House District 4 (Ogunquit and parts of York, Wells and Sanford): incumbent Democrat Patricia Hymanson and Republican Bradley Moulton

*House District 6 (North Berwick and most of South Berwick): Democrat Tiffany Roberts-Lovell and Republican Manley Gove.