I have stood at the polls over the years and watched people vote for the very first time. Nothing is more uplifting than seeing a high school senior, a new Mainer, a young parent, a college freshman or a proud veteran walk into the voting booth and quietly fill out a ballot.

No one interrogates you before you vote. No one will make you punch a clock. No boss will be looking over your shoulder. There is no censorship, no questioning of your choice on the ballot. Your vote is your own, and yours only, your absolute right to be heard on the issues and candidates of the day.

There is no greater equalizer among the poor and the wealthy, the urban and the rural, the educated and the unschooled, nothing as fundamental to our democracy as the franchise. Your vote is part of the bedrock of our representative government.

Because Maine people hold this right so sacred, our citizens routinely turn out in record numbers at the polls. In 2016, 72.8 percent of eligible Mainers voted in the general election. This put us in second place nationally, narrowly behind Minnesota.

Yet nationally, our country ranks only 18th in the world, with an average voter turnout of only 48 percent – below Estonia, Japan, Iceland, Bulgaria, Germany and many other countries.

How can we get more people to vote? How can we encourage, not discourage, all eligible people to vote, and remove barriers that undermine our democracy?

Here are a few ideas:

 We should ensure that civics is taught in our schools – helping young people understand how precious their civic duty is, how fortunate they are to live in this country, how important it is to be informed and how valued their right to vote is.

 The law should allow individuals to register to vote automatically when they turn 18. Why should we have a separate procedure for enrolling to vote in the state where you live on your 18th birthday? There should be no amount of paperwork, no fear, no excuse, no procrastination. Logistically, this proposal may be challenging at first. But other countries have done it, and we can do it, too.

 We should defeat measures that would erect barriers to registration and voting, discouraging people from voting. Two such measures are before the Legislature right now. They are unnecessary and they are wrong.

L.D. 121 would slow down the voting process, lengthen waiting lines at the polls and create barriers by requiring each and every voter to pull out an ID with a photo on it and go through a verification process before exercising their constitutional right to vote.

If you don’t have a photo ID on you, you would be sent to the back of the line, singled out and made to swear out an affidavit with all your personal information and the reasons why you didn’t happen to have your ID on you. Even then, your vote won’t count. You will have to make a special trip back to the town office within five business days and provide more identification before your vote will be counted. No more just stopping by the polling place over your lunch break.

This flies in the face of a bipartisan study discouraging such a measure. It is oppressive and unnecessary.

L.D. 155, also before the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee, singles out voters who identify their residence as a campus dormitory or other building located on the campus of a postsecondary educational institution. A person in this situation would have to produce additional identifying information, either a tax bill or a vehicle registration or a driver’s license showing the same address.

Because this bill imposes a double standard for voter registration and singles out one category of voter for extra questioning, it flies in the face of the Supreme Court precedent in Dunn v. Blumstein and is likely unconstitutional. It too is unnecessary.

Despite the protestations of some politicians who wish to shut the doors on voters, there is no documented evidence of voter fraud or misuse of the franchise in our state to justify undermining the voting rights of all Mainers.