[Augusta, ME] On Wednesday, the Maine House of Representatives overwhelmingly voted to approve LD 1463, "An Act to Create an Automatic Voter Registration System." The legislation creates a process that would automatically register eligible Mainers to vote when they interact with the Bureau of Motor Vehicles or another approved state agency where they already provide proof of eligibility for voter registration. The House voted 88-56 in support of the legislation, which was sponsored by House Speaker Sara Gideon and co-sponsored by a bipartisan group of legislators including Senate Republican Leader Dana Dow and Independent Representative Kent Ackley. The bill has earned support from a broad coalition of stakeholders, including Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap, the League of Women Voters of Maine (LWVME), Maine Conservation Voters, and AARP Maine.
LWVME Executive Director Anna Kellar released the following statement:
"We are pleased that the House voted to pass this common-sense, bipartisan improvement to our voting system. LD 1463 will build on Maine's proud tradition of leading the country in voter registration and participation. This bill will make our voter rolls more accurate, will make Maine's voter registration system more efficient and cost-effective, and will protect those who decline or are ineligible from being inadvertently registered to vote."
The legislation will allow eligible Mainers to be registered to vote when they interact with the Bureau of Motor Vehicles or another approved state agency where they provide proof of eligibility for voter registration--including name, address, citizenship status, and signature. The legislation also allows for the pre-registration of eligible 16-year-olds when they get their first driver's license so that they will already be registered when the are eligible to vote at age 18. Outdated information, e.g. old addresses, of registered voters will also be automatically updated.
Voters can still register with a voter registration card at their town hall if they prefer, and registration would not be mandatory. If an eligible Mainer does not wish to register and have their information on the voter rolls, they will have the opportunity to decline registration.
Maine would be the 19th state to adopt an Automatic Voter Registration system. Oregon became the first in 2015, and that effort is widely considered a success. Since then, 17 other states and the District of Columbia have passed similar laws.
LD 1463 now goes to the Senate for approval and will need to be approved again by the House before heading to Governor Mills for her signature.