Action Under the Dome for Monday, July 12

Monday, July 12, 2021
Jen Lancaster

It’s time to celebrateWe just had one of our most successful legislative sessionsAlmost all of our priority bills have been signed into law or are sitting on the Governor’s desk waiting to be signed. Thank you to our League artillery who contacted their legislators or who volunteered on our Advocacy Committee. We accomplished all of this and more thanks to your efforts! As promised, here’s a recap of the last few months and the status of key bills. 

The Legislature is planning to be back in session on July 19 to tie up the loose ends. See the link to the Legislative Calendar. Stay tuned.


Bills signed into law or waiting to be signed: 

  • Time frame extension for processing absentee ballots (LD 102): Signed into law! In Maine, we count our absentee ballots at the same time we count Election Day ballots — after the polls close on Election Day. Advance processing allows for absentee ballots to be fed into the tabulating machine or ballot box prior to Election Day and counted in a timely manner on election night. 

  • Ongoing absentee voting (LD 148): Signed into law, though not as LD 148. The provisions of this bill were incorporated into the bipartisan budget bill, LD 221, along with the funding to support it. The bill provides ongoing absentee voter status to voters aged 65 and over. It also stipulates that Maine will join the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC) by January 1, 2023 for the purpose of sharing voter registration information with member states and using that information to update the central voter registration system. We really wanted that. 

  • Semi-open primaries (LD 231): Passed to be enacted in the House, awaiting final passage on the Special Appropriations Table in the Senate. Unenrolled voters would be permitted to cast one ballot in the primary of their choice. Republicans would not be able to vote in Democratic primaries, and Democrats would not be able to vote in Republican primaries. We expect this bill to be carried over into the second session, funded, and enacted in 2022.

  • Removing the party designation from return envelopes for absentee ballots (LD 451): Carried over to the second session. This bill applies to the general election only. We supported this measure; it’s best practice.

  • Online voter registration (LD 1126): Passed to be enacted on July 2, awaiting the governor’s signature. She has until today, July 12, to sign or veto the bill, or it will become law without her signature. This was one of our highest priority bills this session. OVR would allow residents to securely and conveniently register to vote, and update their personal information, over the internet. 

  • Audits and election transparency (LD 1155):  Passed to be enacted in the House, awaiting final passage on the Special Appropriations Table in the Senate. This important measure carries a stiff price tag, but it's so important to do. We expect this bill to be carried over into the second session and hope it will be funded and enacted in 2022.

  • The Secretary of State's housekeeping bill (LD 1363): Signed in law! This includes a lot of good stuff after the 2020 election, including expanding drop boxes and mandating absentee ballot cure procedures. 

  • Corporate contribution ban (LD 1417): Signed into law! Prohibits corporations from donating to campaigns, leadership PACs, and caucus PACs. We testified on a number of bills with our partners at Maine Citizens for Clean Elections. For the full money in politics legislative roundup, read more here 

  • Good election measures (LD 1575): Signed into law! This will improve voter information, protect the rights of nonpartisan observers, and ensure consistent treatment of student IDs when registering to vote.


Racial Justice:

This year the League testified on several bills on racial justice issues, along with our partners in the Coalition on Racial Equity (CORE). Those bills included: 

  • Racial Impact Statements (LD 2): Signed into law! A racial impact statement, like a fiscal impact statement, is a tool to aid legislators in detecting unintended and unforeseen disparate impacts of proposed legislation prior to adoption and implementation.

  • The Indian Land Claims Settlement Act (LDs 1568 and 1626): We supported both bills, with attention to protecting the voting rights of tribal members. Both of these bills will be carried over into the second session.


DEAD (and we’re sad about it):

  • Ranked choice voting for governor and legislature (LD 202): This constitutional amendment failed to reach the two-thirds vote needed in the House. It’s over, just waiting on the formalities. 

  • Lowering the voting age to 16 for municipal elections (LD 1051): Officially dead. The League testified as Neither For Nor Against, since we don’t have an official stance. Here’s the good news: at our Convention in May, members approved the Board’s proposal to study lowering the voting age. Before the League can take action, it’s essential that members have an opportunity to be informed on the issue and reach broad agreement or consensus.

  • National Popular Vote (LDs 1330 and 1384): Officially dead. Over the past few years, we’ve had countless conversations with supportive lawmakers and Mainers all over the state who want to ensure that every vote is equal. We'll continue to build momentum around NPV.


DEAD (and we’re happy about it):

  • Photo ID bills (LDs 253557, and 1083): Officially dead. These bad photo ID bills were killed early on in the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee. Maine leads the nation in voter accessibility measures. Let’s keep it that way. 


Redistricting. The Apportionment Commission (technically Redistricting) met for the second time last week. We were there and offered these comments. The Commission has a web page where you can follow the proceedings and sign up for notices of future meetings. They are still trying to figure out what to do about the fact that census data is already too late for Maine to meet the deadlines established in our state constitution. The Commission has asked the Maine Supreme Court to weigh in and provide some clarity, as the California Supreme Court did last year. The needed census data is widely expected sometime next month. The deadline in our Constitution was last month. 


Westbrook City Council meeting to vote on ranked-choice voting 
Monday, July 12 at 7:00 PM
471 Stroudwater Street

The City Council in Westbrook will vote TODAY whether to put a charter amendment on this November's ballot for local ranked-choice voting (RCV). There have been four races in Westbrook in the last five years when a candidate for city council or mayor won with less than 50% of the vote. RCV will make sure that winners represent the majority of voters and allow more voices to be heard. Help show support for RCV by attending the City Council meeting. Check out our talking points here.



Ready to see real people again? Volunteer with us for two- or three-hour shifts this summer. We're tabling to register voters and educate about our advocacy work. We will be highlighting our efforts to pass the National Popular Vote in Maine and the For the People Act and D.C. Statehood at the federal level. Email Lane at if you would like to volunteer for a two- or three-hour shift. Click here to view the full summer schedule  

Upcoming tabling events:

Kingfield Festival Days
Saturday, July 17
Click here to sign up!