Maine’s secretary of state has certified enough petition signatures to ensure a statewide people’s veto referendum in November that asks voters to support or reject a new law banning Election Day voter registration.
Charlie Summers made the announcement late Thursday afternoon, exactly 30 days after Protect Maine Votes, a coalition of progressive advocacy groups, submitted more than 80,000 signatures for consideration.
About 70,000 of those signatures were validated, well above the 57,277 required of the campaign by state law. “More than a thousand volunteers worked tirelessly to protect a system that has worked well for more than 38 years,” said Mark Gray, campaign manager for Protect Maine Votes. “There’s no reason to change it.”
Per state law, the people’s veto question will be listed first on the ballot, and it will read: “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?”
In June, the Republican-controlled House and Senate voted largely along party lines to pass LD 1376, An Act To Preserve the Integrity of the Voter Registration and Election Process. Supporters said the aim was to improve the voting process and alleviate stress on municipal election clerks, although some, including Maine Republican Party Chairman Charlie Webster, said it would reduce voter fraud.
Supporters of same-day voter registration, however, said voter fraud is not a problem and the 38-year-old law allowing Election Day registration simply makes it easier for Mainers to vote.
“During this tough economy, a lot of people in Maine have to work two or three jobs just to make ends meet,” said Barbara McDade, president of the League of Women Voters of Maine, one of the coalition members. “Election Day registration makes it possible for many hardworking Mainers to participate. Voting is fundamental to our democracy. We shouldn’t create new ways to make participation harder.”