AUGUSTA, Maine -- Maine Gov. Janet Mills has signed four democracy reform and modernization bills into law, making permanent policies that were put into place for the 2020 election and taking additional steps to improve elections in the state. The Pine Tree State officially joined 40 other states in offering online voter registration, and strengthened its absentee voting system so that it’s available and accessible to more Mainers going forward.
Maine’s new democracy reform package comes at a time when 17 states have enacted 28 new laws that restrict voter access since the 2020 election, with more potentially on the way. Vermont recently bucked that anti-voting trend when its Republican governor signed a universal vote by mail bill into law. It also comes just weeks after federal voting expansion legislation, the For the People Act, faced an initial vote in the U.S. Senate.
“On the heels of Vermont’s permanent vote by mail law, it’s encouraging to see another New England state expand voter access. These new measures, including online voter registration and permanent absentee voting for disabled voters and voters over 65, give Mainers more safe and secure voting options,” said RepresentUs CEO Josh Silver. “We commend Gov. Mills and the Maine Legislature for bucking the anti-democracy and anti-voter trend we’re seeing play out in many states across the country.”
Together, the package of bills will: establish an online voter registration system; ensure that student IDs can be used for proof of identity when registering to vote; create a permanent absentee voting list for disabled voters and those over the age of 65; and expand the use of ballot dropboxes across the state, among other reforms.
RepresentUs partnered with Mainers for Modern Elections, a coalition of pro-democracy groups that includes the ACLU of Maine, League of Women Voters of Maine, Maine Conservation Voters, and others to get these bills introduced and passed.
“Gov. Mills has made historic progress for Maine’s democracy,” said Will Sedlack, Civic Engagement Manager at Maine Conservation Voters. “Her actions recognize that equitable access to the ballot box is critical to creating a just and fair democracy for all current and future eligible voters of the Pine Tree State.”
“In this moment, when so many states are making it harder to vote, it is refreshing that Maine is continuing to lead the way in ensuring all our eligible voters are able to participate,” said Anna Kellar, Executive Director of the League of Women Voters of Maine and Maine Citizens for Clean Elections. “These bills will increase convenience for voters and security for our election processes, and reduce the barriers to voting for all Mainers.”
“It shouldn’t be easier to vote in Maine than Montana,” Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows said in an op-ed ahead of the bills’ passage, advocating for passage of the For the People Act. “Voting rights for our neighbors matter as much as our own.”
“Maine has a history of leading the nation when it comes to making our elections safe and accessible. It’s great to see Maine elected officials take the lessons we learned from voting during the pandemic and make changes that will make the absentee process better,” concluded Rob Booth, RepresentUs Senior Organizer. “We look forward to continuing to work to make Maine the easiest and safest state to vote in.”
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RepresentUs is the nation’s largest grassroots anti-corruption organization, bringing together conservatives, progressives, and everyone in between to pass anti-corruption laws in cities and states to stop political bribery, end secret money, and fix our broken elections.