Members of the Legislature’s Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee voted to direct the Secretary of State to conduct a thorough study of Maine’s election system, a move that ends a controversial carryover bill that sought to require voter identification. Two weeks ago, Secretary Charlie Summers sent an annual report to the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee on the state’s Central Voter Registration system in which he called his yearlong review of voter registration data “troubling.” Summers said although most of the problems were related to human errors by municipal officials rather than intentional fraud, those errors contributed to inaccurate and unreliable state voter data.
The data “suggests that a substantial number of noncitizens [over 150] may have registered to vote, and approximately one-third of that number may have actually voted in elections over the past few years,” Summers wrote. “I have turned this information over to the Attorney General for further investigation and to pursue whatever action he deems appropriate.”
The secretary concluded that his review of the system was evidence enough to consider drastic changes to the system. Lawmakers decided to use the voter ID bill, LD 199, as the vehicle for directing Summers to conduct a study. By amending LD 199, committee members replaced both the bill’s title and its entire text with a resolve that directs the Secretary of State to report back on the study and provide possible draft legislation by February 2013.