June 11, 2011

Bill to end same-day registration approved

Senate debate is heated after the Republican Party chairman says Democrats have stolen elections.

By Tom Bell tbell@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

Charles Webster
click image to enlarge

Charlie Webster, chairman of the Maine Republican Party, attends a rally at the State House on Nov. 3, the day after Paul LePage was elected governor.

2010 Associated Press file

READ THE BILL

To read the full text of L.D. 1376 and see results of roll-call votes, go to the Legislature's bill search page.

He noted that Maine would become the 43rd state to require that people register before Election Day.

The bill's passage was one of the top goals of the Republican Party in this session. Republican-controlled statehouses around the country are rewriting voting laws to require photo identification at the polls, reduce the number of days of early voting or tighten registration rules.

L.D. 1376 represents a big change for elections in Maine. The current law has been credited with helping Maine rank among the states with the highest voter turnouts. In 2008, nearly 60,000 voters registered to vote on Election Day.

In Friday's Senate vote, all 12 Democrats who were present voted against the bill, along with independent Sen. Richard Woodbury of Yarmouth. Sen. Chris Rector of Thomaston was the only Republican to oppose it.

Another Republican, Sen. Brian Langley of Ellsworth, who had voted previously against the bill, was absent.

Sens. Thomas Saviello, R-Wilton, Nancy Sullivan, D-Biddeford, and Seth Goodall, D-Richmond, also were absent.

Before the bill goes to the governor's desk, one of the senators who was absent could request that the vote be reconsidered.

Opponents say the fight isn't over.

"We are going to do everything we can to restore voter rights for Maine people and are exploring every option, including legal options," said Alysia Melnick of the Maine Civil Liberties Union.

Groups opposing the bill include the Disability Rights Center, the League of Women Voters of Maine, the Maine Civil Liberties Union, the Maine Municipal Association, the Maine League of Young Voters and the Maine Women's Lobby.

MaineToday Media State House Writer Tom Bell can be contacted at 699-6261 or at:

tbell@mainetoday.com

 

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