Supporters of same-day voter registration released new evidence Monday — about one month ahead of a November referendum — that they say supports their case for restoring a practice that has been in place for 38 years. Question 1 on the Nov. 8 statewide ballot reads: “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?”
Protect Maine Votes and the Yes on 1 campaign on Monday released hard data on voter turnout trends that suggest allowing voters to register on Election Day increases voter participation and, in some cases, saves money. The research cited was produced by national nonpartisan groups, well-known academic institutes and some progressive nonprofit groups. None of the studies were commissioned by the Yes on 1 campaign.
“Reputable research confirms what we already know in Maine — same-day voter registration works,” said Sarah Walton of the League of Women Voters of Maine and an assistant professor of justice studies at the University of Maine at Augusta. “Same-day voter registration provides important safeguards for elections, helps to increase voter participation and makes sure that every eligible voter has an opportunity to participate.”
The most recent study, released Monday by the Brennan Center for Justice, concludes states that allow same-day voter registration had higher turnout than states that do not. The study also says the top five states, including Maine, for voter turnout were all states that allow Election Day registration.
Another study, America Goes to the Polls 2010, released by Nonprofit VOTE, found that Maine ranked No. 1 in voter turnout in 2010 and cited Election Day registration as one of the main reasons. That report also suggested same-day registration saves money “on processing and counting provisional ballots, because far fewer provisional ballots are cast when voters can update their registration at their polling places.”