Citizen’s veto movement hopes to restore same-day voter registration

Posted July 07, 2011, at 5:57 a.m.
Last modified July 07, 2011, at 11:57 a.m.

AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine Secretary of State Charles Summers has approved the wording for a People’s Veto referendum question aimed at restoring the status quo when it comes to voter registration.

A new law passed during the 125th Legislature ended Maine’s practice of allowing people to register to vote on Election Day. The bill signed into law by Gov. Paul LePage requires people to register at least 48 hours before Election Day and was crafted largely to ease the burden of last-minute registrations on town clerks.

Paperwork to initiate a people’s veto of that law was submitted on June 21 by Barbara McDade, president of the League of Women Voters of Maine, and five other signers.

Critics of the new law now have until Aug. 8 to collect and verify more than 57,000 petitions to get it on the November ballot. If successful, the following questions will appear on the November ballot:

“Do you want to reject the section of Chapter 399 of the Public Laws of 2011 that requires new voters to register to vote at least two business days prior to an election?”

Signature gathering kick-off events have been scheduled for Friday, July 8, in Bangor, Lewiston and Portland. Volunteers will pick up petitions and begin gathering names as early as this weekend. In addition, the coalition of organizations opposed to the law will announce the formation of a political action committee to support signature collection and the election campaign.

Those organizations include Engage Maine, the Maine Civil Liberties Union, Maine League of Conservation Voters, League of Women Voters of Maine, Maine AFL-CIO, Maine League of Young Voters, Maine People’s Alliance, Opportunity Maine, Maine Equal Justice Partners, EqualityMaine, Maine Women’s Lobby, Maine Education Association, MSEA-SEIU, Speaking Up for Us, the Disability Rights Center, Preble Street Resource Center and Homeless Voices for Justice.

BDN reporter Eric Russell contributed to this report.

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