A Democratic state lawmaker in Maine urged his colleagues on Monday to support a proposal that would strip the governor of his power to fill vacancies in the U.S. Senate. If one of the U.S. senators representing Maine — Republican Susan Collins and Independent Angus King — were to step down this month, Republican Gov. Paul LePage could appoint a replacement until voters choose a new senator in November 2016. But Democratic Rep. Matt Moonen wants to require that a special primary election is held no later than 100 days after a vacancy occurs, followed by a special general election.
Maine: LePage to propose adding lieutenant governor, dropping secretary of state | Bangor Daily News
Gov. Paul LePage wants to get rid of the secretary of state position and replace it with a lieutenant governor. The duties of the secretary of state, from running elections to licensing drivers, would come under the lieutenant governor, who also would be first in the line of succession to replace the governor. The governor’s office confirmed it is drafting legislation that would not only make that change to the state’s constitution but would change how two other constitutional officers are appointed. LePage wants the governor, not the Legislature, to name the attorney general and state treasurer. LePage has had numerous disagreements with the Attorney General Janet Mills, a Democrat who was elected by the Legislature. She is serving her third term, having been elected when Democrats held legislative majorities in 2008, 2012 and 2014.
Maine: Federal judge hears arguments on Maine campaign finance donation limits for independents | Sun Journal
A federal judge Tuesday heard arguments from the state and from an attorney representing supporters of independent candidate for governor Eliot Cutler over a complaint Maine’s campaign finance laws are unconstitutional in the way they limit the amount of money supporters of independent candidates can donate to campaigns. Cutler is in a race against Republican Gov. Paul LePage and 2nd District Congressman Mike Michaud, D-Maine. In Maine, Republican and Democratic candidates for governor are allowed to collect $1,500 from individuals for their primary contests and $1,500 for their general election contests for a total individual donation limit of $3,000.
Running as a clean elections candidate wouldn’t be an option for hopefuls in next year’s gubernatorial contest under a budget compromise crafted last week by Republican and Democratic legislators. But while public campaign financing would be off the table in the race for the Blaine House, it would still be an option for legislative candidates, who would be able to qualify for 20 percent more funding than they received during last year’s elections. Under the budget provision, the clean elections program would receive $2.8 million from the state’s general fund over the next two years. That’s $2.8 million more than the fund would have received under Gov. Paul LePage’s original budget proposal, which would have eliminated funding for the program, but $1.2 million less than the program normally receives every two years. LePage also proposed eliminating public campaign financing two years ago in his first budget proposal before taking that proposal off the table.
Editorials: Maine Republicans Want to Get There (Vote Suppression) From Here (Vote Turnout) | NYTimes.com
Earlier this year, Maine’s governor, Paul LePage, a Tea Party favorite, helped Republican legislators enact a law eliminating Maine’s 38-year-old same-day voter registration policy. They offered the standard excuse Republicans have been using around the country to hinder turnout by Democratic-leaning groups – it was necessary to prevent voter fraud.
Never mind that voter fraud – people trying to vote when they are not entitled to – is no bigger a problem in Maine than in the rest of the country, which is to say it’s not much of a problem at all. Maine has reported two cases in 38 years.
Now that Maine voters have made clear their support for same-day voter registration, the focus shifts to another hot election-related proposal that will come up during the 2012 legislative session: voter ID. The bill requiring voters to show photo identification in order to cast ballots comes up after voters rejected by a 3-2 margin Tuesday another move to tighten the state’s election laws. That vote repealed a law requiring voters to register at least two days before an election. In doing so, voters reinstated Maine’s long-standing same-day registration policy.
“Legislators should move very cautiously in erecting any new barriers given this overwhelming vote,” said Shenna Bellows, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union in Maine. Tuesday’s tally “absolutely indicates that voters resent barriers to our constitutional voting right,” she added.
Republicans have spent 2010 overhauling voter laws to design their ideal electorate. Last night, voters in Maine fought back, approving Question 1, which restores Election Day registration. It won easily by a margin of 60 percent to 40 percent.
As I detailed in the November issue of the magazine, when Republicans gained control of Maine’s legislative chambers and governor’s office, they set their sights on building a permanent majority by passing restrictive voter laws. They failed to push a voter-ID bill through the legislature, but Republican Governor Paul LePage signed a repeal of Maine’s Election Day registration this summer.
A coalition that is campaigning to preserve same-day voter registration in Maine said Tuesday that many conservative leaders have done just what they support abolishing. Voting records reveal that Gov. Paul LePage, at least two state senators and eight state representatives have in the past registered to vote on election day or during the two business days preceding it. A new law that they all support would ban voter registration within two business days of an election.
The law, passed with Republican support, is now the subject of a people’s veto referendum on the Nov. 8 ballot, led by Protect Maine Votes.
Cited in a press release issued by the coalition Tuesday were Senate President Kevin Raye, R-Perry; Lance Dutson, chief executive officer of the conservative Maine Heritage Policy Center; former Republican gubernatorial candidate Peter Cianchette; and former Republican congressional candidate Dean Scontras.
Maine: LePage signs bill banning same-day voter registration, but critics vow to fight | Bangor Daily News
Gov. Paul LePage has signed a controversial bill that bans voters from registering on an election day, but critics who say the law disenfranchises voters have vowed to challenge that change through the citizens’ referendum process.
The governor signed LD 1376 on Tuesday, along with several other bills that have come across his desk in recent weeks, but did not offer any comments, LePage spokeswoman Adrienne Bennett said.
The bill, an Act To Preserve the Integrity of the Voter Registration and Election Process, was sponsored by House Speaker Robert Nutting, R-Oakland, and endorsed by Secretary of State Charlie Summers, In addition to eliminating same-day voter registration, the legislation bans absentee voting two days before Election Day.