A state commission has recommended that Maine reject any effort to require voters to show identification at the polls. By a 4-1 vote, The Commission to Study the Conduct of Elections in Maine said in a report that there is “little or no history in Maine of voter impersonation or identification fraud.” It also said such a law would slow down the voting process and could work to disenfranchise elderly, poor or rural voters, many of whom don’t have IDs or may not be able to travel far to get them. The American Civil Liberties Union of Maine applauded the report, which also asks the state to establish an early voting system, in which residents would be able to cast ballots before Election Day. Early voting would require an amendment to the Maine Constitution, as is being proposed this session in a bill sponsored by state Rep. Michael Shaw, D-Standish. There is no pending legislation to require IDs.
“We are thrilled the commission rejected voter ID and endorsed true early voting,” said Shenna Bellows, the Maine ACLU’s executive director. “We hope that this report puts to rest, finally, the controversy of the past years surrounding voter rights.”
The report was leaked to the Huffington Post, which published it Tuesday, catching state officials off guard.
Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap is scheduled to present the report to the Legislature’s Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee on Wednesday.
“We don’t know how it got out there,” said Melissa Couture, a Dunlap spokeswoman. She said Dunlap, a Democrat who expressed opposition to voter ID in a speech after his January swearing-in, wouldn’t comment on the report until his presentation.
Dunlap’s predecessor, Republican Charlie Summers, supported voter ID. But the issue didn’t go anywhere during his tenure.