A broad coalition of advocacy groups and volunteers has gathered more than 68,000 signatures in an effort to allow Maine voters to affirm or overturn a recently passed law that bans Election Day voter registration. Those signatures, well above the 57,277 needed to ensure a people’s veto, were delivered to the Secretary of State’s Office on Monday afternoon, one day before the deadline and exactly one month after the effort began.
As long as enough of the gathered signatures are certified by the Secretary of State, Mainers will get to weigh in this November on the following question: “Do you want to reject the section of Chapter 399 of the Public Laws of 2011 that requires new voters to register to vote at least two business days prior to an election?”
Members of Protect Maine Votes, the coalition of 18 groups and agencies and more than 1,000 volunteers, said they were buoyed by the response of residents from across the state.
“We have received an incredible outpouring of support from volunteers and voters in Maine,” said Mark Gray, the campaign manager for the people’s veto effort. “It’s clear from the enthusiasm and speed with which we have collected signatures that Mainers understand that voting is a fundamental right that must be protected.”
The 125th Legislature passed a law in June largely along party lines that ended Maine’s 38-year practice of allowing voters to register on Election Day. Republicans who backed the legislation said it was designed to relieve the pressure on municipal election officials but House and Senate Democrats argued that it amounted to voter suppression.
In early July, Protect Maine Votes launched its campaign to gather the 57,277 signatures to force a statewide vote.
Ben Chin, the field director for the campaign and the political engagement director for the Maine People’s Alliance, called the effort unprecedented.
“More than a thousand Mainers, representing every political party and a broad coalition of groups, came together,” he said. “The level of support and energy has been inspiring.”