AUGUSTA – A day after a federal judge invalidated a key provision of Maine’s public campaign financing law, supporters of the system expressed confidence that the law will be fixed in time for next year’s elections.

“We’re actually quite confident the law will emerge very strong,” said Alison Smith, board president of the nonprofit Maine Citizens for Clean Elections.

On Wednesday, U.S. District Court Judge George Singal declared the matching-funds provision of Maine’s Clean Election Act invalid.

Singal’s decision, based on last month’s U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down a similar public funding provision in Arizona, had been anticipated by elected officials and supporters of the law.

“That’s why we went into fix-it mode,” Smith said.

During the last legislative session, lawmakers passed a bill that puts in motion a process for addressing the provision flagged by the courts, which provides matching funds for publicly financed candidates when their privately funded opponents receive additional money or money on their behalf.

The Legislature directed the state Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices to develop recommendations for the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee, which will use them to develop a bill to correct the public funding law in the 2012 session.

On July 28, the ethics commission will hold a public session to accept suggestions for addressing the funding provision. The commission has already developed several suggestions, including allowing limited private fundraising by Clean Election candidates who decide they need more funds.

Whatever remedy emerges, some action to preserve the public funding system is widely expected, given lawmakers’ widespread participation in the system. Participation by legislative candidates typically runs about 80 percent, according to ethics commission figures.

“We consider (Judge Singal’s decision) almost a technicality at this point,” Smith said. “We’re confident there’s time before the 2012 elections are under way to tweak the system.”

Maine Assistant House Majority Leader Andre Cushing, who successfully challenged the matching-funds provision in federal court, agrees that the public funding law will survive in an amended form.

“I honestly believe we will have to pass something” to address the court’s ruling, said the Republican from Hampden.

Voters approved the Maine Clean Election Act in 1996. The voluntary system provides full public financing for eligible candidates for the Legislature and governor. The system was intended to encourage new candidates to run for public office and reduce the role of fundraising in political campaigns.