Maine should not suppress the vote through the lack of online voter registration, long lines at the polls and a reduced number of polling places. We have learned from Dr. Shah of the Maine CDC that there are many unknowns regarding the effects of COVID-19 on Election Day in November. In light of the recent election disasters in Georgia and elsewhere, Maine needs to work quickly to make sure voter registration and voting can be done easily and safely.  Here’s how:

First, make online registration available. Forty states have this option. Although the League of Women Voters of Maine has registered many new voters in high schools and colleges and at ceremonies for new citizens, the virus has slammed that door shut. These potential voters could go to their city/town offices to register; many of them won’t. Online registration will allow more people who have just become eligible to vote to begin lifelong participation in our democracy.

Second, ballots should be mailed to all registered voters with a return, stamped envelope. This would shorten lines on Election Day. This is especially important because town clerks have recently indicated they are having a very difficult time finding enough poll workers, due to the risk of infection. This shortfall means fewer polling places and long lines.

Our state has had “no excuse” mail-in voting for many years. But in this time of COVID-19, Maine must do more to encourage, rather than, suppress voter turnout.

Kim Matthews

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