Maine Same-Day Registration Veto Referendum, Question 1 (2011)

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Question 1
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Type:Veto Referendum
State code:(Targeted law) LD 1376
Referred by:Engage Maine
Topic:Elections
Status:Approved Approveda
The Maine Same-Day Registration Veto Referendum appeared on the November 8, 2011 general election ballot ballot in the state of Maine as a "People's Veto" where it was approvedApproveda.

The measure overturned a same-day election registration repeal signed by the governor on June 21, 2011. The veto effort was led by Engage Maine, which was directed by Ben Dudley at the time, executive director. The law that the referendum sought to overturn was LD 1376.[1][2][3]

Election results

See also: 2011 ballot measure election results[4]
Maine Question 1
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 237,024 59.9%
No155,15639.2%

Results via official results from the Maine Secretary of State's office.

Text of measure

Ballot language

The ballot language that voters saw on the ballot read:[5]

"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?"

Support

Supporters

Arguments

  • Jeff Gorham, who signed the petition to place the referendum on the ballot, argued: "If we want to ensure that everybody's voices are heard, we need to make sure that we're creating an environment where people have as much access to registration as possible, and I think by taking away same-day voter registration you are sort of limiting that access."[1]
  • According to the League of Women Voters of Maine President Barbara McDade: "For almost 40 years, Maine has allowed voters to register on Election Day with no problems. Same-day registration has worked and has helped our state to become a leader in voter participation."[7]
  • League of Women Voters of Maine president Barbara McDade stated that same-day registration was “a critically important issue that is fundamental to our democracy."[1]
  • Supporters stated on September 27, 2011 that many GOP leaders used same-day registration before, according to voting records. Those records, reports said, showed that same-day ban advocates like Maine Governor Paul LePage, at least two state senators and eight state representatives previously registered to vote on election day or during the two business days preceding it.[8]
    • On this argument, David Farmer, communications director for supporting group Protect Maine Votes, stated: "One of the primary arguments made for the repeal of same-day registration is that people who register late don't care, are lazy or are ill-informed. But the fact is many of the state's most influential leaders...have registered to vote close to Election Day. The day and time you register is not an indicator of your interest in the election."[8]
  • Farmer also argued: “This is about making sure that every eligible voter in Maine has the opportunity to vote.[9]
  • The Maine Municipal Association, which represents cities and towns across Maine, stated support for the measure, arguing: "While municipal officials recognize that wardens and clerks are burdened by Election Day responsibilities, and appreciate a legislative interest in reducing that burden, they believe the elimination of same-day voter registration will frustrate and be generally unhelpful for some voters and otherwise fails to get at the heart of the problem."[6]
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Donors

The following were contributions made in support of the measure:

Donor Amount
Protect Maine Votes PAC $488,989.22
Maine Democratic State Committee $19,896.00
Maine People's Alliance $17,369.56
Working America Maine $11,122.11
Maine Conservation Voters Action Fund $6,000.00
Bates College Democrats $581.48
Midcoast Maine to Keep Election Day Registration $458.05
Total $544,416.42

The Maine Ethics Commission fined the group Secure Maine Votes a total of $3,251 for not filing an expenditure report on time on November 1, 2011.

According to Cindy Sullivan of the ethics commission, the group spent approximately $162,000 on television advertising on October 28, but did not file the paperwork until October 31.

Maine election law states that expenditures that are $500 and are made 13 days before the election must be reported within 24 hours.[10]

Opposition

Opponents

Arguments

  • Charlie Webster, chairman of the Maine Republican Party, stated at the time that out-of-state college students may be voting twice in two different states. He commented on evidence of that: "I think it's fair to say that I have found out more information in three days than the Democrats who have been in power for 38 years have made any attempt to find."[1]
  • Lance Dutson, chief executive officer of the Maine Heritage Policy Center, said that his organization would be in support of the law to eliminate same-day registration during the campaigning months. Dutson stated: "People in Maine are comfortable with these steps and they want to take further steps. This is not an issue that has swelled from the grass-roots; it's a contrived campaign. So that's why you're not seeing these national groups coming in, because it's not, frankly, a contentious issue."[11]
  • Chris Tyll, head of Secure Maine’s Ballot, the group advocating for a 'no' vote on the measure, stated: “If there is a potential for fraud, maybe we need to look at changing the system. One case of fraud is too many. It’s a slap in the face to guys [overseas] who keep our country free.”[12]
  • Maine House Speaker Robert Nutting released a statement on why the law should stay in place, and why he was against the referendum against it. Nutting stated: "Maine lawmakers approved the new rule to take pressure off of municipal officials who are trying to accommodate an ever increasing number of last minute registrations and absentee ballots. Residents will still have 247 days out of the year to register, and to suggest they are incapable of fulfilling that requirement is an insult to them."[13]
  • According to columnist Douglas Rooks: "LD 1376’s toughest test was in the Senate, where, with 20 Republicans, it carried 18-17. Republicans Chris Rector and Brian Langley voted no, but other respected moderates, including Richard Rosen and Roger Katz, voted yes. Had even one more senator carefully considered the implications, we wouldn’t be facing the necessity of turning out to vote “yes” on Question 1. But we are. This time, let’s make sure we get it right."[14]
  • Representative Dale Crafts stated in an editorial published by the The Times Record about the repeal efforts: "It is very puzzling that the organizers of the repeal speak in terms of “protecting Maine votes.” No one’s right to vote is being threatened under this law. Anyone who takes their right to vote seriously will have no problem adjusting to this minor change that will help preserve voting integrity here in Maine."[15]
  • Scott Lansley, former Maine Legislator and political director for Maine Taxpayers United argued for the legislation in a newspaper column, concluding his writing by saying: "The issue is not to disenfranchise any legal residents their right to vote, but to put integrity back into our election process! Do we really want people who are lazy and uninformed voting anyway? The proponents of the referendum think that nonresidents should have as much say in elections as those of us who do the responsible thing by registering during the other 240 other days of the year!"[16]
  • Lance Dutson, CEO of Maine Heritage Policy Center argued: “Maine has had consistently high voter turnout since the 1960s, before same-day voter registration was allowed. Being able to register on Election Day is certainly convenient, but it’s not the reason for high turnout.”[17]
  • Dutson also commented on the role of his organization in the campaign process: "Our role in this is primarily going to be as an educational kind of research arm of it, but we do reserve the ability through our filing as a ballot question committee to get as active as possible. What Secretary Summers outlined in his report gives a lot of concern, the fact that six out of 478 turned out to be non-citizens is something that I think we should all be concerned about."[18]
  • Dutson again stated in a column: "Maine has one of the most unsecure voter registrations in the country. It is lax, it is error-prone and it leaves room for much vulnerability. To correct this, the Maine Legislature wisely passed a law that seeks a ban on voter registration for two days prior to Election Day."[19]
  • According to University of Southern Maine political science professor Ron Schmidt: "One thing I can say for sure. One tiny group in the GOP thinks it's a big deal, and another fairly small group thinks it's a big deal. Does anybody else? I don't know."[20]

Donors

The following were contributions made in opposition of the measure:

Total campaign cash Campaign Finance Ballotpedia.png
Category:Ballot measure endorsements Support: $544,416.42
Circle thumbs down.png Opposition: $5,958.50
Donor Amount
The Maine Heritage Policy Center $4,508.50
NO on 1 - Secure Maine's Ballot $1,450
Total $5,958.50

Reports and analysis

  • According to a study produced by national nonpartisan groups, well-known academic institutes and progressive nonprofit groups, trends showed that allowing voters to register on Election Day increased voter participation and could sometimes save money. It must be noted, that this data was only according to this research.
Regarding the research, Sarah Walton of the League of Women Voters of Maine and an assistant professor of justice studies at the University of Maine at Augusta stated: “Reputable research confirms what we already know in Maine — same-day voter registration works. Same-day voter registration provides important safeguards for elections, helps to increase voter participation and makes sure that every eligible voter has an opportunity to participate.”[17]
  • "America Goes to the Polls 2010," a second study released by Nonprofit VOTE concluded that the state ranked No. 1 in voter turnout in 2010. One of the biggest reasons for this, the report said, was because of Election Day registration. The study also concluded that money was saved "on processing and counting provisional ballots, because far fewer provisional ballots were cast when voters could update their registration at their polling places.”[17]

Media editorial positions

See also: Endorsements of Maine ballot measures, 2011

Support

  • The Bangor Daily News stated in an editorial: "Soon an effective electronic system will make registering easier and at the same time reduce vulnerability to fraud. And while the people’s veto isn’t the best way to legislate, Maine’s election law needs to be returned to its highly functioning status. Vote yes on Question 1."[21]
  • According to The Maine Campus, The University of Maine student newspaper, the editorial board endorsed a 'yes' on the measure: "The necessity for a repeal simply isn’t there. And much of the argument for upholding LD 1376 is based on a plethora of phantom, hypothetical situations of fraud that cannot be allowed to haunt democratic procedure...If convenience has any hold in your life, the answer to the issue is quite easy. Voting Yes on 1 is the only way to maintain a system of proficiency."[22]
  • The Sun Journal wrote about the opposing side's television ads: "There’s a reason professional politicians prefer TV ads. It’s because they can be crafted to toy with voters’ emotions while avoiding the facts. The Secure Maine’s Ballot ad is a classic example of that. Mainers should ignore it and Vote Yes on Question 1."[23]
  • The Portland Press Herald said, "Voters, whether they register on Election Day or have been on the rolls for years, should reject this haphazard legislation and vote "yes" to sustain the people's veto. If you want to maintain a system that has worked for nearly 40 years, one that has made Maine a national leader in voter participation, say "yes.""[24]

Polls

See also: Polls, 2011 ballot measures
  • In a poll conducted on September 7, 2011, the Maine Heritage Policy Center released results that showed a small margin between voters to supported the repeal of the law and those who opposed the repeal. The survey was taken by Pulse Opinion Research. The poll surveyed 500 likely voters in the state and had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.[25]
  • In a poll taken by Critical Insights, results showed an advantage to Question 1's passage, with 51% of those surveyed in support of the proposal. The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.[26]
Date of Poll Pollster In favor Opposed Undecided Number polled
September 7, 2011 Pulse Opinion Research 53% 47% 0% 500
October 18-23, 2011 Critical Insights 51% 43% 6% 600

Path to the ballot

In order to make the November 2011 ballot, at least 57,277 signatures were required by the August 8, 2011 deadline. However, if that deadline was missed, the same amount of signatures would have been required by the September 27, 2011 deadline in order to be placed on the June 2012 ballot.[2]

According to reports, the "Protect Maine Votes" coalition stated it had submitted 68,064 signatures to the secretary of state's office, more than the 57,277 signatures required. Reports say that local clerks have validated those signatures. The secretary's office had thirty days to review the signatures and decided whether the veto referendum was worthy of ballot access for November 2011. The measure was ultimately placed on the ballot.[27]

Timeline

Calendar.png

The following is a timeline of events surrounding the measure:

Event Date Developments
Bill signed June 21, 2011 Bill challenged by referendum was signed by Governor
Petition drive deadline August 8, 2011 At least 57,277 signatures required to qualify for Nov. 2011 ballot
Certification Sep. 9, 2011 Ballot measure was found to be certified for the ballot.

See also

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Suggest a link

Additional reading

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Boston.com, "Maine voting rule to go on ballot," June 24, 2011
  2. 2.0 2.1 Press Herald, "Wording of people's veto is set," July 7, 2011
  3. WMTW.com, "People's Veto To Top November Ballot Questions," September 8, 2011
  4. Results do not add up to 100% due to blank ballots.
  5. Maine Secretary of State, "November Referendums, "Retrieved October 6, 2011
  6. 6.0 6.1 Bangor Daily News, "Maine towns back Yes on 1, same-day voter signup," October 11, 2011
  7. MPBN.com, "Protect Maine Votes says it plans to have 1,000 volunteers out as early as next week knocking on doors and calling voters," September 15, 2011
  8. 8.0 8.1 Online Sentinel, "Group: GOP leaders used same-day voting," September 28, 2011
  9. Keep Me Current, "Question 1 would undo same-day registration ban," October 26, 2011
  10. Bangor Daily News, "Maine ethics panel fines opponents of same-day voter registration," November 2, 2011
  11. The Portland Press Herald, "Sides gear up for ballot fight on fate of registration law," September 16, 2011
  12. Bangor Daily News, "Fate of Election Day voter registration at stake with Question 1," October 21, 2011
  13. WMTV.com, "Lawmakers, Mainers Have Mixed Response To Recent Voting Measures," July 10, 2011
  14. Sun Journal, "People’s Veto is move in wrong direction," November 6, 2011
  15. The Times Record, "LD 1376 protects Maine votes," August 23, 2011
  16. Sun-Journal, "Voting in Maine … accountability, right or responsibility?," September 18, 2011
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 Bangor Daily News, "Same-day voter registration increases turnout, studies say," October 3, 2011
  18. MPBN.net, "Opponents of Same-Day Voter Registration Mobilize, Draw Criticism," October 3, 2011
  19. Press Herald, "Maine Voices: Election Day voter registration leaves Maine vulnerable," November 1, 2011
  20. Sea Coastal Online, "Sides work to build support in same-day voting fight," October 23, 2011
  21. Bangor Daily News, "Yes on Question 1," October 25, 2011
  22. The Maine Campus, "Yes On 26! PERSONHOOD vs. GENOCIDE In America," October 28, 2011
  23. The Sun Journal, "Mainers should see right through 'No on 1' TV ad," November 4, 2011
  24. The Portland Press Herald,"Our View: Question 1: Maine should keep Election Day registration," October 30, 2011
  25. KJOnline, "Poll: Majority support repealing same-day registration," September 13, 2011
  26. Down East, "Poll Shows Yes on 1 Up 8 Points," October 27, 2011
  27. Boston.com, "Advocates of Maine’s same-day voter law deliver petitions," August 9, 2011