Advocacy Groups Respond to Governor Mills Executive Order on Elections

Thursday, August 27, 2020
LWVME Press Release

[PORTLAND, ME] – The Governor's new executive order sustains Maine's commitment for November to both facilitate absentee voting and preserve in-person Election Day voting.

It provides for Friday no-excuse absentee balloting, which is less than what was provided in July. Also allowed is mail-in voter registration until 15 days before the election, more than what was required in July. Early processing of absentee ballots and allowing poll workers from outside the county will also allow flexibility for local officials. However, voting rights advocacy groups, including the League of Women Voters of Maine, the Maine AFL-CIO, the Maine Women’s Lobby, and RepresentUs, noted that the executive order does not address several key areas. The order provides no remedies such as mandatory dropboxes and ballot tracking to support voters in case of possible USPS disruptions. It also provides no provision that would allow people to register to vote electronically.

“With only 68 days until the Election, we hope to see another Executive Order soon that addresses our remaining concerns,” said Anna Kellar, Executive Director of the League of Women Voters of Maine.

At present, there is around $3 million dollars in federal funding available to help the state of Maine and our municipalities protect the November election with measures such as mailing absentee ballot applications, prepaid postage on ballot returns, postcard mailing to unregistered voters, dropboxes, and the like. Some of these measures could be taken by towns or the Secretary of State consistent with current law, without an Executive Order, and we understand that the Secretary of State has announced that his office is working on ballot tracking. The federal funding must be spent on the November election or Maine will lose access to it.

“We hope the Secretary of State will provide additional leadership to towns who wish to take some of these proactive measures about how they can use federal funding to provide more protection to their voters. We are running out of time to use those funds and no one should have to choose between voting and their health,” said Rob Booth of RepresentUs.