We Must Protect Elections in Maine
American elections are under attack like never before.
The United States experienced the highest voter turnout on record in 2020, thanks in large part to expansions in early- and mail-in voting during the COVID-19 pandemic. In response, state lawmakers have introduced over 360 bills in 47 states designed to suppress voting, particularly among communities of color. These bills represent a very real threat to our democracy and our constitutional right to vote.
Maine has a history of forward-thinking approaches to voting. Voters may take advantage of no-excuse absentee ballots and several weeks of early voting, and there are no restrictive voter ID laws. We’re also the only state to use ranked-choice voting in federal and presidential elections.
Maine now has the chance to further its pioneering approach to elections with LD 1575, “An Act To Improve Maine’s Election Laws.” This bill, introduced by Representative Joyce McCreight, would codify the changes made to the state’s election laws in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. These changes include allowing a student ID as a qualifying document to register to vote; extending the deadline to vote absentee; and requiring that municipal clerks notify voters of errors on absentee ballots and allow the chance to correct them.
Two additional bills making their way through the Legislature aim to protect our democracy by strengthening campaign finance laws:
LD 1417, “An Act Regarding Campaign Finance Reform”: This bill, sponsored by Senator Louie Luchini and co-sponsored by Senate President Troy Jackson, would place a blanket ban on corporate contributions made directly to state legislators or to their political action committees.
LD 1621, “An Act To Reform Payments to Legislators by Political Action Committees”: This bill, introduced by Senator Chloe Maxmin, would ban legislators from enriching themselves or their family members using funds from political action committees with which they’re involved. In the past, legislators have gotten away with using money from political action committees they control to make personal purchases like House Assistant Minority Leader Trey Stewart, who last year spent over $2,000 on tires and clothes using money from his Star City PAC.
These bills represent far more than just election reform. They are measures to ensure that the people of Maine can participate equally in our democracy and make our voices heard in Augusta, ideals that Mainers for Working Families has fought for since our founding.