While many states move to restrict voting, Maine protects and expands it
[AUGUSTA, ME] — On Friday, Gov. Janet Mills signed the fourth of four democracy reform and modernization bills into law, making permanent policies that were put into place for the 2020 election and taking additional steps to modernize elections in the state. Maine joined 40 other states in allowing eligible Maine residents to register online to vote, and strengthened its absentee voting system so that absentee voting is available to more Mainers going forward. Together, the bills represent crucial updates to Maine’s elections systems and make it easier for all eligible Maine voters to cast a ballot.
The four bills are:
- LD 1126, sponsored by Rep. Teresa Pierce, which establishes an online voter registration system;
- LD 1575, sponsored by Rep. Jay McCright, which ensures that student IDs can be used for proof of identity when registering to vote;
- LD 148, incorporated as LD 221, sponsored by Speaker Ryan Fecteau, which establishes a permanent absentee voting list for disabled voters and those over the age of 65, and calls for Maine to join the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC), a non-profit organization that helps states maintain clean, accurate, up to date voter rolls; and
- LD 1363, sponsored by Senator Louis Luchini, which expands the use of ballot dropboxes across the state.
Members of Mainers for Modern Elections, a coalition of election reform-minded organizations who have been working closely on this democracy modernization package, issued the following statements praising the reforms:
“Maine has a history of leading the nation when it comes to making our elections safe and accessible. It’s great to see Maine elected officials take the lessons we learned from voting during the pandemic and make changes that will make the absentee process better,” said Rob Booth, RepresentUs Senior Organizer. “We look forward to continuing work to make voting in Maine as safe, accessible, and secure as possible.”
“Voting is protected by more constitutional amendments than any other civil right we enjoy in this country. That’s because voting is fundamental to our democracy and protects all other rights,” said Meagan Sway, policy director at the ACLU of Maine. “We are so proud Maine is making voting more accessible and more participatory, even when other states are turning back voting rights.”
“In this moment, when so many states are making it harder to vote, it is refreshing that Maine is continuing to lead the way in ensuring all our eligible voters are able to participate,” said Anna Kellar, Executive Director of the League of Women Voters of Maine and Maine Citizens for Clean Elections. “These bills will increase convenience for voters and security for our election processes, and reduce the barriers to voting for all Mainers.”
“Governor Mills made historic progress for Maine’s democracy last week. Her actions recognize that equitable access to the ballot box is critical to creating a just and fair democracy for all current and future eligible voters of the Pine Tree State,” said Will Sedlack, Civic Engagement Manager at Maine Conservation Voters.
For more information, Mainers for Modern Elections put together comprehensive summaries on each proposed law.
Mainers for Modern Elections is a coalition committed to ensuring that our right to vote safely transcends politics and partisanship. The coalition advocates for safe, secure, modern elections and is committed to securing equitable access to the ballot for every eligible Maine voter. Members include AARP Maine, ACLU of Maine, the Center for Secure and Modern Elections, Gateway Community Services, League of Women Voters of Maine, Maine AFL-CIO, Maine Citizens for Clean Elections, Maine Conservation Voters, Maine Education Association, Maine Equal Justice, Maine Service Employees Association - SEIU Local 1989, Maine Women’s Lobby, Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, and RepresentUS.