We're excited to see some of you in Augusta tomorrow for Advocacy Day. In the meantime, here are your weekly updates.
Some of our priority bills had their public hearing last week, and it was a marathon of a day. These bills have advanced to the next step — a work session scheduled for Wed., February 15. Members of the VLA committee will workshop the bill language and details, and it's possible for a bill to advance out of committee and move on to the House.
- LD 26 — Prepaid Postage for Absentee Ballots: This bill would require the Secretary of State to provide prepaid postage on the return envelopes for absentee ballots. We testified as NFNA. While this bill looks good on paper, pun intended, it has its downsides, like an increase in cost and logistical challenges.
- LD 34 — Photo ID: This bill would require voters to show photo ID at the polls. We opposed this bill, as did other civic organizations like ACLU Maine, Maine Conservation Voters, AARP Maine, Disability Rights Maine, MaineTransNet, Maine Women's Lobby, and many others. As we said in our testimony: "We have heard the argument that photo ID laws make our elections seem more secure. There are better ways to build trust in elections than by locking them down."
- LD 233 — Petition Deadline Clarification: This bill would require the Secretary of State to determine the validity of certain petitions within 30 business days from the filing deadline, rather than from the drop-off date. We testified as NFNA. Citizens have the right to petition, and we believe that the SOS office has an exemplary record of fulfilling its statutory and constitutional duties. However, as drafted, LD 233 may have an adverse impact on petitioners.
- LD 237 — Voter Re-registration: This bill would require voters to renew their voter registration every four years. Our answer to this one is simple: No! We have some new measures in place (Automatic Voter Registration and membership in ERIC, the national voter registration database) that are much better solutions for keeping the voter rolls current. We opposed this one.
What's on the horizon?
As more public hearings are scheduled, we'll announce the lineup for more priority bills. Those will include the National Popular Vote, campaign finance reform and other money in politics issues, and more tweaks to modernize and improve our elections.
Board Positions Open!
Are you enthusiastic about democracy and want to serve on our board? We're looking for new board members. You'll serve as an advocate, ambassador, and fundraiser, working to ensure the welfare and integrity of our organizations. Board members serve terms of two years and can be renominated. The estimated time commitment is 5-10 hours/month, in addition to attendance at four board meetings per year. Interested? Click hereto learn more about the position and how you can apply to serve.