Supporters of an effort to preserve election day voter registration in Maine insist it’s not a partisan issue, but their effort to let voters decide the issue is drawing sharply opposing views from Democrats and Republicans.
The rhetoric heated up as the coalition to keep same-day registration gave state election officials petitions that could force a November referendum on the issue. More than 68,000 voters’ signatures were turned in Monday, and the campaign said the total could reach about 70,000 before the filing deadline arrived Tuesday afternoon.
The Protect Maine Votes coalition — 18 groups that include organized labor, civil libertarians, consumer and public health advocates, disabled and homeless groups — is seeking to repeal a state law that requires registration at least two business days before an election.
“Here in Maine, the people’s veto is part of our democratic process, and the extreme left-wing groups and individuals behind this signature-gathering effort have every right to try to pursue it,” Republican House Speaker Robert Nutting of Oakland said.
“At this point, it’s too early to tell whether they have enough valid signatures to get the question on the ballot. If they do, I’m confident that Maine voters will reject it,” Nutting said in a statement.
State GOP Chairman Charles Webster said the issue has major political implications, saying dozens of legislative races have been swung by 100 or fewer votes in the last decade.