A pair of bills aimed at tightening Maine’s voter identification requirements were broadly panned as unconstitutional and unneeded Wednesday during daylong public hearings before the Legislature’s Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee. The bills, “An Act to Require Photo Identification to Vote” and “An Act to Protect Voting Integrity by Establishing Residency Verification Requirement for Purposes of Voting,” drew criticism from civil rights groups, top election officials, the state’s attorney general and everyday citizens. Also testifying against the bills were at least a dozen students from Bates College. The Lewiston school has been the target of ongoing criticism from conservatives in Maine, including Republican Gov. Paul LePage, who has suggested that college students have been improperly or illegally voting in Maine elections.
Debate over the bills, sponsored by state Rep. Bradley Farrin, R-Norridgewock, and Rep. Kenneth Fredette, R-Newport, mirrors activity in state legislatures around the United States against the backdrop of President Trump’s claims that millions voted illegally in the last election. Trump and others who have asserted widespread voter fraud have provided no proof of their claims, and top state election officials around the country, both Democrat and Republican, say their voting systems are sound and that fraud in the polling place is virtually nonexistent.
… Rep. Craig Hickman, D-Winthrop, said circumstances of life, like a divorce or the death of a loved one, sometimes force people to relocate numerous times in a single year. He said the law doesn’t prohibit people from being registered to vote in different locations as long as they vote only once.
“So why would we make it any different for students than we would for any other grown person in the world who chooses to vote where they currently live?” Hickman said.