Making Democracy Work

Early Voting for Maine

Protect Maine Votes

What's new in the fight for voter participation in Maine.

In Short

  • Early voting reduces congestion on Election Day
  • It helps eliminate long lines at the polls
  • It reduces pressure on election officials
  • It provides an important convenience to many voters
  • It contributes to a more secure and orderly process for the conduct of elections

Next Steps

Find more information about our efforts to get true early voting in Maine at our Take Action page.

Read Our Legislative Testimony on This and Other Priority Issues

More Detail

Don't we already have that? Actually, we don't. Not really. What we sometimes hear called "early voting" is really in-person absentee voting. Early voting is different because, unlike in-person absentee voting, ballots are cast immediately - not put aside to be cast by a clerk on Election Day. With true early voting, the voter casts their own ballot into the ballot box or optical scanning machine when they vote before Election Day.

Who supports it? This legislation has been supported by the League of Women Voters, the ACLU of Maine, the Disability Rights Center, the Maine Women's Coalition, Speaking Up for Us of Maine, and many others.

In its 2013 session, the The Maine Legislature narrowly rejected LD 156, a constitutional amendment to establish an option for for early voting. Similar legislation was considered again in 2015 and 2017, but because it requires a constitutional amendment, it requires 2/3 approval from both the House and the Senate. We have not yet been able to clear that high bar.

It's time for true Early Voting to come to Maine. Let's try again.

What can you do? Stay tuned for opportunities to help when the legislature reconvenes.

Further Reading

Read this important new study from the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU: Seven Early Voting Ideas to Improve Outdated Election Process

The final report from the bipartisan Presidential Commission on Election Administration 2014

Early Voting Would Help Democracy, Doug Rook's op. ed. in the Times Records, November 17, 2014.

Maine clerks prepare for onslaught of ballots, Associated Press story, October 1, 2014.

Our View: Maine should pass early voting amendment, editorial in the Portland Press Herald, February 22, 2013.

League Testimony on LD 156, February 20, 2013.

Early Voting in Maine at the Secretary of State's web site contains reports from the 2007 and 2009 pilot programs conducted in Maine.

Secretary of State Matt Dunlap's letter to the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee introducing the Elections Commission report, February 1, 2013.

Final report of the Commission to Study the Conduct of Elections in Maine January 28, 2013.

Our View: Panel report should end talk of voter ID in Maine, editorial in the Portland Press Herald, February 11, 2013.

ACLU of Maine, League of Women Voters Applaud Much of New Election Commission Report, joint press release from LWVME and ACLU of Maine, February 5, 2013.

At What Price? The Cost of Voter ID in Maine, a new report from the Maine Center for Economic Policy that analyzes the cost of implementing a voter ID requirement in Maine.

College students: You cannot be denied your vote, op-ed from Shenna Bellows of the ACLU of Maine in the Bangor Daily News, October 15, 2012.

College students should be able to cast local ballots, editorial in the Journal Tribune, October 12, 2012.

Forum: People want expanded voting, not less of it, reporting in the Lewiston Sun Journal from the hearing on October 4, 2012.

Absentee voting is for benefit of voters, not candidates, editorial in the Bangor Daily News, September 27, 2012.

Voters shut out of election hearing, letters to the editor of the Portland Press Herald, September 8, 2012.

Voter ID Wars, Op-Doc by Mo Rocca in the New York Times, September 5, 2012.

Requiring voter IDs is a guise to solve a nonexistent problem, editorial in the Bangor Daily News, September 5, 2012.

GOP-Backed Voter Fraud Laws Aim To Disenfranchise Students, The Daily Beast, September 3, 2012.

Our View: Maine does not need a voter ID requirement, editorial in the Portland Press Herald, August 26, 2012.

Words to live by: Protect the vote, Bill Nemitz in the Portland Press Herald, August 26, 2012.

Voting Rights & Elections at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law School.

Voting Rights & Voter Registration at Demos.

More Background

For the last few years, voting rights have been under attack all around the country. But here in Maine we've fought back.

On February 5, 2013, the Commission to Study the Conduct of Elections in Maine released the report of its findings, and we're excited for a whole host of reasons. The Commission not only rejected voter ID, it also endorsed same-day voter registration and early voting! You can read the full report here.

Eight public hearings were held from August through November and members of the League of Women Voters attended every single one of them. Over and over again, Maine voters testified in opposition to voter ID and in support of same day voter registration and early voting. We worked tirelessly to publicize the hearings in local communities, and you responded.

As exciting as this news is, however, we do not agree with everything in the report, including a recommendation to tighten residency requirements for voting. This could discourage young people who attend college here from voting, and it continues a recent trend of attacks on student voting rights. We will work to forestall these proposals.

League Members Speak to the Commission

Read all of the Leagues testimony before the 2013 Commission to Study the Conduct of Elections in Maine here.