Secretary of State of Maine - Wikipedia

Secretary of State of Maine
Seal of Maine.svg
Shenna Bellows.jpg
Shenna Bellows
since January 4, 2021
StyleThe Honorable
Madam Secretary
Term length2 years
Inaugural holderAshur Ware
FormationMarch 15, 1820
Salary$77,792 [1]
WebsiteOfficial website

The secretary of state of Maine is a constitutional officer in the U.S. state of Maine and serves as the head of the Maine Department of State. The Secretary of State performs duties of both a legislative branch as well as an executive branch officer. The role oversees areas that include motor vehicle licensing, state identification, record keeping, and corporate chartering.[2]

The secretary of state is elected biannually by ballot of members of both houses of the Maine Legislature assembled together,[2] identical in procedure to its neighbor, New Hampshire.[3] The position is elected at the start of the first session of the Maine Legislature, which also sits for a two-year term, concurrent with the other constitutional officers of Maine.[2]

The incumbent secretary of state is Shenna Bellows, who took office on January 4, 2021.[4][5]


The secretary of state oversees three distinct areas within their department. These coincide with the three bureaus under their aegis: the Maine Bureau of Corporations, Elections and Commissions, Maine State Archives and Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles.[6][7]

Corporations, elections, and commissions[edit]

The secretary of state has oversight over the conduct of elections, petition filing, and state-wide ballot initiatives. They are responsible for applying campaign conduct law against candidates for office. The secretary reviews petitions to verify authenticity of signatures for ballot initiatives under the Maine Constitution.

The secretary of state also oversees and applies the state's corporation law. Corporations seeking to be chartered in Maine do so through the secretary's office. The secretary has oversight over Maine's commercial law and application of the Uniform Commercial Code.

The secretary's office appoints and regulates the state's notaries public.[8][2]

State archives[edit]

The secretary maintains laws passed in the state and all records of the legislature, state agencies, election returns, vital statistics, county court rulings, and Supreme Judicial Court rulings and proceedings.[8]

Motor vehicles[edit]

The secretary oversees the Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles and is thus responsible for overseeing identification, motor vehicle registration, vehicle inspections, and other forms of licensing.[9]

List of secretaries of state[edit]

The following officials have served as secretary of state of Maine:[10][11]

Tenure Secretary of State Hometown Party Notes
1820–1821 Ashur Ware Portland Democratic-Republican
1822–1828 Amos Nichols Augusta Democratic-Republican
1829–1830 Edward Russell North Yarmouth National Republican
1831–1834 Roscoe Greene Portland Democratic
1835–1837 Asaph Nichols Augusta Democratic
1838 Samuel P. Benson Winthrop Whig
1839 Asaph Nichols Augusta Democratic
1840 Philip C. Johnson Augusta Democratic
1841 Samuel P. Benson Winthrop Democratic
1842–1844 Philip C. Johnson Augusta Democratic
1845 William B. Hartwell Augusta Democratic
1846–1849 Ezra B. French Damariscotta Democratic
1850–1853 John G. Sawyer Augusta Democratic
1854–1855 Alden Jackson Augusta Whig
1856 Caleb Ayer Cornish Democratic
1857 Alden Jackson Augusta Democratic
1858–1860 Noah Smith, Jr. Calais Republican
1861–1863 Joseph B. Hall Presque Isle Republican
1864–1867 Ephraim Flint, Jr. Dover Republican
1868–1871 Franklin M. Drew Brunswick Republican
1872–1874 George B. Stacy Richmond Republican Resigned
1875 Sidney Perham Paris, Maine Republican Previously served as governor.
1876–1878 S.J. Chadbourne Dixmont Democratic
1879 Edward H. Gove Biddeford Greenback
1880 S.J. Chadbourne Augusta Republican
1881–1884 Joseph O. Smith Augusta Republican
1885–1890 Ormandel Smith Litchfield Republican
1891–1896 Nicholas Fessenden Fort Fairfield Republican
1897–1906 Byron Boyd Augusta Republican
1907–1910 Arthur I. Brown Belfast Republican
1911–1912 Cyrus W. Davis Waterville Democrat
1913–1914 Joseph E. Alexander Richmond Republican
1915–1916 John E. Bunker Eden Democrat
1917–1926 Frank W. Ball Dover Republican
1927–1932 Edgar C. Smith Augusta Republican
1933–1934 Robinson C. Tobey Augusta Republican
1935–1936 Lewis O. Barrows Newport Republican
1937–1941 Frederick Robie Gorham Republican
1942–1960 Harold I. Goss Gardiner Republican Longest-serving Maine Secretary of State
1961–1964 Paul A. MacDonald Coopers Mills Republican
1965–1966 Kenneth M. Curtis Cape Elizabeth Democratic
1967–1974 Joseph T. Edgar Farmingdale Republican
1975–1978 Markham L. Gartley Greenville Democratic Ran unsuccessfully for Congress against Olympia Snowe in 1978.
1979–1988 Rodney S. Quinn Augusta Democratic
1989–1996 William Diamond Windham Democratic
1997–2004 Dan Gwadosky Fairfield Democratic
2005–2010 Matthew Dunlap Old Town Democratic
2011–2012 Charlie Summers Scarborough Republican
2013–2021 Matthew Dunlap Old Town Democratic
2021–present Shenna Bellows Manchester Democratic Incumbent, First woman to serve as Secretary of State

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Pay for Maine attorney general, secretary of state outpaces earning power of governor". Bangor Daily News. June 25, 2013. Retrieved December 5, 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d "Maine State Constitution". Retrieved 2020-04-29.
  3. ^ "State Constitution - Secretary, Treasurer, Etc. |". Retrieved 2020-04-29.
  4. ^ "Shenna Bellows makes history as Maine's first woman Secretary of State". 2021-01-04.
  5. ^ "Maine Secretaries of State, 1820 - | Maine State Legislature". Retrieved 2020-04-29.
  6. ^ "Maine Secretary of State". Ballotpedia. Retrieved 2020-04-29.
  7. ^ "Maine Department of the Secretary of State". Retrieved 2020-04-29.
  8. ^ a b "Bureau of Corporations, Elections & Commissions". Retrieved 2020-04-29.
  9. ^ "Bureau of Motor Vehicles". Retrieved 2020-04-29.
  10. ^ "Maine Secretaries of State, 1820 - | Maine State Legislature". Retrieved 2020-04-29.
  11. ^ Maine Register, State Year-book and Legislative Manual. Tower Publishing Company. 1918.