Tim Mills told lawmakers Monday that the “depraved animal” who murdered his 19-year-old daughter in 2007 should not be allowed to vote while serving his time in prison. “It is reprehensible, offensive and unjust these criminals are able to vote under Maine law,” said Mills during a hearing before the Legislature’s Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee. Mills said he took his daughter Aleigh to the voting booth every year to teach her about citizenship. She voted only once before she was murdered, he said. John A. Okie, 22, was convicted in 2010 of murdering his father, John S. Okie, and Aleigh Mills. He will be in prison for at least 50 years. Tim Mills testified in support of L.D. 573, which would prohibit convicted murderers and other Class A felons from voting while incarcerated. In addition to murder, Class A crimes in Maine include manslaughter and gross sexual assault. Maine and Vermont are the only states that allow felons to vote while they’re in prison.
The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Gary Knight, R-Livermore Falls, called it “strange and inappropriate” that Maine is one of the two states.
“I think we’re a little bit of a laughingstock here in Maine,” Knight said. “This is a case where it’s an embarrassment to be leading. We’re not leading. We’re trailing. We’re outliers. We’re the ones who are off-base.”
The bill drew opposition from the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine, the Maine Council of Churches, the League of Women Voters of Maine, the Maine Prisoner Advocacy Coalition, the NAACP and Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap.
They argued that convicts are punished by incarceration, that voting helps felons stay connected to the communities to which they will return, and that it would be an administrative nightmare to determine which felons can vote in prison and which ones cannot.