The Maine House and Senate are poised to limit the most fundamental democratic process — voting. L.D. 1376, “An Act To Preserve the Integrity of the Voter Registration and Election Process,” will eliminate Maine’s nearly 40-year tradition of Election Day registration. It is a very bad deal for Maine voters. Election Day registration means that voters can register and vote on the same day. It works well.
Eliminating Election Day registration will disenfranchise the thousands of Maine citizens who rely on it. And to what end? There have been only two cases of voter fraud prosecuted in Maine in 30 years. In addition to Maine’s tradition of election integrity, we have a tradition of vibrant civic engagement. In fact, Maine has one of the highest rates of voter participation in the country.
This move will turn back the clock on our democracy. It will turn back the clock on voting rights.
Imagine a member of the military who completes her service shortly before an election and returns home to Maine, not able to vote because she was unable to get to the registrar’s office in town before the deadline. Imagine a busy single mom, recently relocated, unable to find care for her children so she can get to the town office to register.
Their civic responsibility — their constitutionally protected right to vote — is deferred. These are the real-life consequences of making it harder to register and vote.
The impact will be felt most by those who move frequently and by those who live on the economic margins. One of the three largest predictors of who turns out to vote is how often they move.