New Report On The State Of Our Democracy

Thursday, April 1, 2021
Jen Lancaster

Timely Report Offers an Informative Portrait of Maine’s Government

[PORTLAND, ME] – After a tumultuous year in American politics, Democracy Maine releases the second edition of their report, State of Maine Democracy, that assesses the health of the state’s government and democracy. The first edition was released in April 2020, just after the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

This report offers a broad and objective perspective on Maine’s democracy in several selected areas, including the effect of poverty on voter turnout, voting rights and barriers to voting, election methods, conduct of elections, money in politics, newspapers and media access, and more.

In each chapter, key indicators study whether certain trends in Maine are positive or negative. Where possible, the report compares Maine with other states to provide a larger context. 

“Overall, we find that Maine ranks high as a democratically governed state, and we should be justifiably proud of our record,” said Anna Kellar, Executive Director of the League of Women Voters and Maine Citizens for Clean Elections, “But there are still some areas that bear watching or where we need to improve.” 

This report examines and assesses the state of democracy in Maine using publicly-available data, published reports, and research conducted by Democracy Maine, a collaboration between the League of Women Voters of Maine (LWVME) and Maine Citizens for Clean Elections (MCCE). 

Democracy Maine is offering an online discussion, open to the public, of the report on Thursday, April 8 at noon. 



  • Maine has seen a drastic and troubling decline in the number of local newspapers and newspaper circulation, causing a number of Mainers to live in news deserts. Pseudo-local news websites are also on the rise, employing out-of-state freelancers to write articles paid for by undisclosed “clients,” typically conservative operatives.
  • In a huge election year rocked by COVID-19, Maine’s government faced a number of challenges at the local and state level. Election officials, workers, and volunteers rose to the challenge to conduct a well-run 2020 general election, which saw a record voter turnout, especially among young people.
  • Although Maine is among the highest turnout states, a significant percentage of registered voters still does not participate in each election, and this has historically been true in the districts with the highest poverty rates.
  • Maine leads the nation in protecting voting rights with same-day registration, no photo
  • identification requirement, and no felony disenfranchisement. Full implementation of automatic voter registration (AVR), due in 2022, and online voter registration (OVR) will remove further barriers to voter registration and participation.
  • While the percentage of women in the Legislature is at an all-time high at 44%, this is still not reflective of the general population where women make up 51%. The percentage of baby boomers in the Legislature is also very high (57%) relative to the general population (36%).



“The indicators in this report jump off the page. It’s a resource treasure for all Maine citizens.” 
— Richard Rosen, former State Senator, former commissioner of the Maine Department of Administrative and Financial Services (DAFS), currently Vice President for Financial and Institutional Services at Maine Maritime Academy  

"History underscores a democracy's unparalleled contribution to human liberty and personal fulfillment. However, the past also reminds us how fragile and difficult building and sustaining this political system can be. Maintenance requires rigorous inventory and examination. This insightful and accessible report holds up a mirror to Maine citizens of our state's strengths in manifesting a vibrant democracy - and the crucial areas that require improvement."
— Glenn Cummings, former Speaker of the Maine House and Deputy Assistant Secretary, US Department of Education, under President Obama, currently President of USM.

“Thank you, Democracy Maine, for providing such an impressive and easily accessible assessment of the state of our democracy in Maine. From measuring the influence of outside money in our elections to the percentage of eligible Maine voters who cast ballots, the report takes a comprehensive look at the underpinnings of our democracy and offers helpful  suggestions about how we can make it even stronger going forward.”
— Peggy Rotundo, former Maine State Representative, currently Director of Strategic and Policy Initiatives at Bates College