Leaders of the effort to repeal a new law eliminating Mainers’ ability to register to vote on Election Day are “cautiously optimistic” that they will succeed in getting the issue on November’s ballot.
Opponents of the law must gather more than 57,000 signatures of registered Maine voters by Aug. 8 to put the repeal question on the statewide ballot in the fall.
Mark Gray, campaign manager for Protect Maine Votes, said, “We’re getting just an overwhelming amount of positive response, both from people that are calling or sending us emails, wanting to volunteer to circulate petitions, and the people that are out knocking on doors and talking to folks to collect signatures.”
The coalition of statewide groups is taking aim at a law passed last month to prohibit voter registration and absentee voting in the two business days before an election. If it misses the Aug. 8 deadline, it could get the question on the ballot in June 2012.
One petition circulator, Cathie Whittenburg of Portland, had mixed results on a recent afternoon in the city.
Whittenburg, a board member for the League of Women Voters of Maine, approached a handful of people who told her they were not registered Maine voters, were too busy, or had already signed. The few who took the time to hear her pitch seemed aware of the issue and signed eagerly.
Jeff Hamm of Gorham, who signed one of Wittenburg’s petitions, said, “If we want to ensure that everybody’s voices are heard, we need to make sure that we’re creating an environment where people have as much access to registration as possible, and I think by taking away same-day voter registration you are sort of limiting that access.”