Last week, Maine voters soundly rejected the elimination of same-day voter registration. Within days, Republican leaders vowed they would press ahead with legislation to require identification before Mainers are allowed to vote. Without evidence of voter fraud, it is time for these efforts to restrict voting to stop.
Earlier this year, the Republican-controlled Legislature passed a bill to stop same-day registration, which had been allowed in Maine for 38 years. The change was needed, the bill’s backers said, to avoid fraud.
In August, Charlie Webster, head of the Maine Republican Party, held a press conference to show off a list of 206 students who attend public universities in Maine who he said may have voted illegally because they paid out-of-state tuition but voted in Maine. In 1979, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that college students can register to vote using a dormitory address.
Secretary of State Charlie Summers investigated the students and found no fraud. He still maintained that Maine’s voter registration system is vulnerable. He also sent letters to all the students telling them that they must register their cars or get driver’s licenses in Maine if they intend to vote here.
A group called Protect Maine Votes secured enough signatures to put a repeal of the law on the Nov. 8 ballot. The people’s veto succeeded with 60 percent of the vote last Tuesday.
So, those who want to restrict voting turned their attention to another tack — requiring identification. This sounds reasonable on its face — IDs are required for numerous transactions these days. But about 10 percent of the public does not have a government-issued ID. They are predominately poor or elderly.
Without evidence of fraud, it doesn’t make sense to require these people — or anyone else — to acquire identification in order to cast a ballot.
Maine voters have spoken on this issue and said they think the state’s voting system is not broken. Therefore, there’s no reason to continue to try to “fix” it.