Over the past two years, Maine implemented a number of pro-voter reforms. From implementing automatic voter registration and online voter registration to joining ERIC, Maine has substantially improved voter access. Unfortunately, it also implemented legislation in 2021 to limit absentee ballot processing. Because of the overwhelming pro-voter policies passed in 2021 and 2022, Maine received an A- on this year’s progress report.
Where Maine Started in 2020
- Automatic Voter Registration: Front-End
- Online Voter Registration: No
- Same-Day Registration: Yes
- Restoration of Rights: No Disenfranchisement
- Vote by Mail: No-Excuse
- Electronic Registration Information Center Member: No
- Early Voting Opportunities: In-Person Absentee
- ID Requirements: No Document Required
Relying on the Cost of Voting Index for Maine as of 2020, we considered the state a top tier state for pre-existing voting policy and compared its 2021-22 activity against other top tier states.
How Our Tier Compares:
2021: Two Years Ago
During the 2021 session, the Maine Legislature continued to build on its recent history of passing pro-voter reforms by creating online voter registration in the state.
- H 804 requires the secretary of state to establish an online voter registration system by the end of 2023. The OVR system will be accessible to any eligible voter and not restricted to individuals with a Maine driver’s license. The bill also allows the secretary of state to create an application programming interface that would allow third-party registration drives to submit registration forms electronically.
The Legislature also implemented additional pro-voter reforms during the special session.
- S 450 modifies the approved automatic voter registration process to allow updates to existing voter registrations, creates notice and cure provisions for absentee ballots, including processes to allow voters to cure missing and mismatched signatures in person or by phone, and authorizes municipalities to use drop boxes, among other things.
- H 1172 expands the list of acceptable voter ID for same-day voter registration to include student IDs but also prohibits absentee ballots from being counted before the polls close.
- Maine officially became a member of the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC), which will help election officials identify and conduct outreach to eligible but unregistered voters.
2022: This Past Year
After several years of instituting major election law changes, the Legislature passed a few minor, pro-voter improvements.
- S 647 expands the list of acceptable voter ID for same-day voter registration to include ID from federally-recognized Indian tribes.
- H 1354 makes it a crime to intentionally interfere with an election workers’ ability to perform their duties, through use of force, violence, or intimidation. It also provides clerks with training on de-escalation techniques and how to report threats or harassment to the secretary of state.
- S 99 allows unaffiliated voters to vote in a party primary.
- Maine successfully implemented Automatic Voter Registration at the BMV in 2022. The secretary of state introduced a streamlined process using new technology to provide customers at the BMV an improved experience. As the state receives data from the system, continued efforts will be important to make sure the system operates as optimally as possible.