By a relatively wide margin, Mainers on Tuesday overturned a recently passed law that would have ended a 38-year-old practice of allowing voters to register on Election Day. Question 1 asked: “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?”
With more than three-quarters of the state’s precincts reporting early Wednesday morning, the yes side was leading 60 percent to 40 percent and had declared victory. The yes side was prevailing in every county, with especially lopsided results in Portland and Bangor. Dozens of Yes on 1 volunteers gathered at Bayside Bowl in Portland and watched the results trickle in on laptops. The mood was festive, even shortly after the polls closed, and only got better as the night went on.
Among those gathered, including Democratic party officials, labor leaders and progressive activists, everyone agreed that it was nice to get a win. “We felt good coming in and we knew we had run a better campaign,” Maine Democratic Party Chairman Ben Grant said. “It feels good to get a win but this isn’t the last vote of 2011, it’s the first of 2012. We need to take this momentum into next year.”
“Maine voters sent a clear message: No one will be denied a right to vote,” said Shenna Bellows, director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine. “Voters in small towns and big cities voted to protect our constitutional right.”