AUGUSTA — Lawmakers have again rejected a bill that would have required photo identification at the polling place.

The 8-5 vote by the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee is the latest rejection of a measure long-sought by legislative conservatives, despite little evidence of voter fraud in Maine.

Voting rights advocates, including the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine, applauded Wednesday’s vote and noted that attempts to force photo identification at the polls in Maine have been repeatedly shot down by lawmakers. They also pointed out that a 2012 special commission on polling place and elections security, headed by then-Republican Secretary of State Charlie Summers, produced a report advising against photo identification at the polls.

The last attempt to require photo identification at the polls was in 2017, when a pair of bills offered by Republican lawmakers failed to gain support in the Legislature.

The ACLU of Maine pointed out Friday that 21 million Americans lack a government-issued photo identification and the majority of them are poor, minorities or elderly.

“Voter ID laws have been deliberately used around the country to make it harder for some people to vote,” Oamshri Amarasingham, advocacy director at the ACLU of Maine, said in a prepared statement. “In particular, these discriminatory laws target poor people and people of color, who are less likely to have the required identification. Maine has always been a leader in voter turnout, and our elected leaders should fight to keep it that way.”

Supporters of photo identification say it is required for many other transactions, and voting should be no different.

The bill, L.D. 322, faces additional votes in the full House and Senate.

Scott Thistle can be contacted at 791-6330 or at:

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