October 12, 2011

Yes on 1 campaign scores key supporter

Those hoping to restore same-day voter registration unveil a Web ad and MMA endorsement.

By Rebekah Metzler rmetzler@mainetoday.com
MaineToday Media State House Writer

AUGUSTA - Less than a month before Election Day, proponents of a people's veto initiative to preserve same-day voter registration are touting endorsements and an online commercial that they hope to put on television.

click image to enlarge

This image, taken from protectmainevotes.com, shows the commercial that the Protect Maine Votes/Yes on 1 campaign hopes also to air on television. To link to the ad, go to this story at pressherald.com.

The Protect Maine Votes/Yes on 1 campaign announced Tuesday that it has the endorsement of the Maine Municipal Association. On Monday, the campaign released a Web advertisement that it is seeking to run on television.

The people's veto would overturn a law passed in June to prohibit voter registration on the day of an election and the two business days before it.

Supporters of the law, which creates the same deadline for absentee ballots, say it would help municipal clerks be more thorough and preserve the integrity of Maine's voting system.

But opponents, who want to overturn only the portion of the law affecting same-day registration, say it would prevent some people from casting ballots.

Voters will weigh in on the issue Nov. 8. The law cannot take effect while the referendum is pending.

After reviewing presentations from both sides, the Maine Municipal Association announced its support for the people's veto. The group said its position is largely the same as it was when the issue was taken up by the Legislature last spring.

"While municipal officials recognize that wardens and clerks are burdened by Election Day responsibilities and appreciate a legislative interest in reducing that burden, they believe the elimination of same-day voter registration will frustrate and be generally unhelpful for some voters and otherwise fails to get at the heart of the problem," according to the association's original policy position.

The position echoes that of the Maine Town and City Clerks' Association.

Lance Dutson, chief executive officer of the Maine Heritage Policy Center, the only group to officially declare opposition to Question 1 on the ballot, dismissed the endorsement and said he believes that many municipal employees disagree with the group's official position.

"The Maine Municipal Association has an unfortunate habit of utilizing taxpayer funds to promote their partisan political interests; their support of the far-left Yes On 1 coalition is yet another example of this," he said.

Dutson said he attended a portion of the association's annual convention last week and heard from "a number" of officials who disagree with the Yes on 1 position.

The Yes on 1 campaign launched a Web ad Monday featuring a variety of Mainers stating their support for same-day registration. They cite its 38-year history and say lawmakers made the change "for no good reason."

The ad is about a minute long and is available on the campaign's website, protectmainevotes.com, and on YouTube. Supporters say they hope to raise enough money to put the ad on television leading up to Election Day.

MaineToday Media State House Writer Rebekah Metzler can be contacted at 620-7016 or at: rmetzler@mainetoday.com 

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