Press Release June 19, 2019
AUGUSTA - The League of Women Voters of Maine applauds the legislature for approving a bill allowing Maine to join the growing number of states that hold presidential primaries instead of caucuses.
Executive Director Anna Kellar said: "The founders knew that each generation must continue working to make `a more perfect union.'That means making the democratic process as representative as possible. Presidential primaries are an important step forward in making `a more perfect' democracy here in Maine."
Recent caucuses have resulted in significant overcrowding, access issues, and voter frustration, both in Maine's larger cities and in rural areas. The legislature previously supported the move to primaries, but the transition faltered over funding issues.
"Primaries have several advantages," added LWVME Advocacy Chair Ann Luther. "They are convenient, confidential, transparent, and accountable. Most important, they better reflect the popular will because far more people participate in primary elections than caucuses."
"We are also pleased that the bill was amended to ensure that the parties may grant unenrolled voters an option for participating in the primary," Kellar added. LWVME does not support "closed primaries."
At the public hearing on LD 1626, the League testified that "Even when individual caucus locations seem crowded on caucus day, the number of Mainers who participate is far smaller than the number who vote in primaries. Primaries offer a much broader gauge of public support, and draw a more representative electorate, than party caucuses."
The political parties will continue to use caucuses for other appropriate purposes including building party engagement and preparing for state party conventions.
The Secretary of State has several months to prepare for the primary, which will take place Tuesday March 3, 2020. This places Maine near the middle of the national primary season.
Ann Luther added, "The future of our democracy depends on robust political participation by active and informed citizens. This bill helps achieve that."
The bill awaits the signature of the governor.