Keeping space between them, voters line up outside of the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor to cast their votes in the primary election on July 14, 2020. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

PORTLAND, Maine — A Maine bill that would allow unenrolled voters to vote in party primaries has gained bipartisan support in the Legislature’s Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee and the support of former U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe.

The bill, sponsored by state Sen. Chloe Maxmin, D-Nobleboro, would allow unregistered voters to vote in either the Democratic or Republican primaries, but would not allow enrolled voters to vote across party lines, the Portland Press Herald reported.

Unenrolled voters who participate in a primary will not be automatically enrolled in the party; however, participants will be counted as party members for the purposes of selecting and allocating delegates to state and national conventions.

“Countless unenrolled voters on the campaign trail lamented how they could not vote in a party primary,” Maxmin said. “Their taxes pay for these elections, but they can’t participate. They will vote on the primary winner in the November General Election, but they have no say on who that candidate will be.”

Maine is one of 14 states that limits primaries to party members. If the bill passes the legislature and is signed by Gov. Janet Mills, it will not take effect until the state’s next presidential primary in March 2024.