Articles about voting issues in Maine.

Maine: State House leaders allow opposing bills to address ranked-choice voting | Portland Press Herald

State House leaders Thursday approved introducing competing bills that address ranked-choice voting – one would repeal the first-in-the-nation voting law and the other would put a ballot question to voters on whether to change the state’s constitution to make it legal statewide. Members of the Legislative Council, which includes majority and minority leaders in both chambers as well as the Senate president and the speaker of the House, approved the bills in 9-0 votes. They now will move to public hearings and work sessions before the full Legislature votes on them. Read More

Maine: Supreme Judicial Court rules ranked-choice voting unconstitutional | Bangor Daily News

Maine’s high court said Tuesday that the state’s first-in-the-nation ranked-choice voting system is unconstitutional, throwing the voter-approved law into jeopardy ahead of the key 2018 campaign when it was supposed to be implemented. In a unanimous, 44-page opinion issued Tuesday, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court’s seven justices agreed with Attorney General Janet Mills, Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap and Republican legislators that the system violates a provision of the Maine Constitution that allows elections to be won by pluralities — and not necessarily majorities — of votes. Read More

Maine: Angus King: Voting equipment could see ‘sophisticated cyberattacks’ from Russia | Bangor Daily News

If the Russians or anyone else want to tamper with the results of an election, they’re not going to get far in Maine. Since the state relies on paper ballots for nearly all of its voting, Secretary of State Matt Dunlap said Monday, Mainers should feel confident that nobody can undercut the will of the people at the ballot box. But given the Russian meddling in last year’s presidential election, U.S. Sen. Angus King wants to make sure that all of America’s voting machines are secure, something that may not be true in every state today. The former director of national intelligence, James Clapper, told a Senate panel this week that “our election apparatus should be considered critical infrastructure” and ought to have protections built in to ensure foreign powers can’t tamper with the results. Read More

Maine: House rejects requiring voters to present photo IDs | Portland Press Herald

The Maine House rejected a bill Tuesday that would have required voters to present photo identification at their polling places in order to cast a ballot. Majority Democrats prevailed on a 76-67 vote that split mostly on party lines in rejecting L.D. 121, which required a voter provide proof of identity with a photographic identification, such as a driver’s license or state-issued identification card. The bill will likely still receive a vote in the state Senate, but it appears all but dead for 2017 with the House’s rejection. Rep. Karl Ward, R- Holden, the bill’s primary sponsor, expressed frustration with Democrats via Facebook following the vote Tuesday. He wrote that the measure would have “prevented virtually all voter fraud in Maine,” and vowed to defeat Democrats at the polls in 2018. Read More

Maine: Ranked-choice voting coming to Maine unless Legislature says no | Sun Journal

Whatever the state Supreme Court advises about whether ranked-choice voting violates Maine’s Constitution, the new voting method would apparently still apply to primaries and congressional elections. “The majority of the elections should be governed by this in 2018,” said Kate Knox of Bernstein Shur, representing the Committee for Ranked Choice Voting that pushed last year’s successful ballot question that would make Maine the first state in the country to adopt the system. Knox told legislators recently they “still have a large number of elections” that are required to use ranked-choice voting under last year’s initiative regardless of what the Supreme Court says. Read More

Maine: Supreme Judicial Court hears arguments on new ranked-choice voting law | Portland Press Herald

The state’s highest court heard arguments Thursday on whether a ballot question approved last November to elect top state and federal officials under a ranked-choice voting system complies with the Maine Constitution. Issues debated in the hourlong hearing before the Maine Supreme Judicial Court included the impact on the two-party political system, the Legislature’s responsibility to enact the will of the people and whether the change would create a constitutional crisis. Several cities around the United States, including Portland, use ranked-choice voting, but no states employ it for statewide offices. The law fundamentally changes the way voters select the state’s top elected officials – legislators, the governor and Maine’s four congressional delegates. Attorneys representing the Maine Senate and House of Representatives, as well as the campaign to pass the ranked-choice voting law, made arguments to the justices. Read More

Maine: Attorney General, Republicans tell high court they believe ranked-choice voting is unconstitutional | State & Capitol

Maine Attorney General Janet Mills and legislative Republicans told the state’s high court on Friday that the ranked-choice voting system approved by voters in 2016 is unconstitutional, setting up a fight with advocates for the law. Legal briefs were due to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court on Friday ahead of an April oral argument in a proceeding initiated last month by the Maine Senate asking for an advisory opinion on the new law’s constitutionality. The system would apply in gubernatorial, congressional and legislative races with three or more candidates. A winner would be declared if a majority picks a candidate as their first choice, but if that doesn’t happen, the candidate with the lowest share of first-place votes is eliminated and second-place votes for that candidate are reallocated. That process that would be repeated until a majority is won. Read More

Maine: Republican lawmakers want to remove gubernatorial candidates from Clean Elections Act | The Portland Press Herald

An effort by a pair of Republican state lawmakers to remove gubernatorial candidates from Maine’s publicly financed political campaign system is being met with mixed reactions at the State House. Reps. Joel Stetkis and Paula Sutton have co-sponsored a bill removing candidates for governor from the list of those who can become eligible for taxpayer support for an election campaign. Stetkis, R-Canaan, told the Legislature’s Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee on Friday that the program was a failure as it stands even though he supports the underlying goal of the state’s Clean Election Act, which was to remove special interest money from political campaigns. Stetkis said providing up to $3 million in taxpayer funds for every gubernatorial candidate who becomes eligible for public finances puts a financial burden on the state at the expense of other priorities. Read More

Maine: Bills to tighten voter identification rules in Maine strongly opposed at hearings | The Portland Press Herald

A pair of bills aimed at tightening Maine’s voter identification requirements were broadly panned as unconstitutional and unneeded Wednesday during daylong public hearings before the Legislature’s Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee. The bills, “An Act to Require Photo Identification to Vote” and “An Act to Protect Voting Integrity by Establishing Residency Verification Requirement for Purposes of Voting,” drew criticism from civil rights groups, top election officials, the state’s attorney general and everyday citizens. Also testifying against the bills were at least a dozen students from Bates College. The Lewiston school has been the target of ongoing criticism from conservatives in Maine, including Republican Gov. Paul LePage, who has suggested that college students have been improperly or illegally voting in Maine elections. Read More

Maine: Pair of Bills Take Aim at College Voters | Maine Public

Voting rights advocates and college students in Maine are hoping to defeat a pair of bills that could make it more difficult for some people to vote. The Legislature will hold a public hearing on Wednesday to weigh the proposals, which have emerged at a time when Republican leaders, including the president, are saying the electoral system is wrought with voter fraud. The bill sponsored by House Republican Leader Ken Fredette deals with a section of voting law dealing with people who tend to move around — military service members and college students. But Fredette’s bill only targets students. It would require them to do one of three things before they can vote: register their car in Maine, prove they pay income or property taxes or show a driver’s license with a residence that matches where they want to vote. Fredette says the proposal is simple, to ensure that college students claiming Maine residency on Election Day are actually residents. “The last thing I want to do is disenfranchise anyone from voting,” he says. “However, we do have a Constitution and the Constitution says you in fact have to be a resident to vote.” But opponents have a different view. Read More