Same Day Voter Registration in Maine
Maine voters overwhelmingly (60%) repealed a conservative-backed Initiative that would have prevented same-day voter registration, state law for 38 years. Maine Republican Chairman, Charlie Webster has championed the move to discard same-day registration. The discard was rushed through the Maine Legislature earlier this year. Mobilized by irritation over the measure, 71,000 signatures were collected and a repeal of the hastily enacted initiative was included yesterday’s statewide ballot. Groups leading the restoration of same-day-voter registration were Maine Democrats, the Maine People’s Alliance and the Maine Civil Liberties Union.
In a local news interview broadcast on public radio November 9th, Mr. Webster shared some thoughts about how the repeal effort was funded. Mr. Webster was a bit scratchy about one particular donor to the repeal campaign who he mentioned by name. Then he said that the repeal efforts extravagant spending (“out-spending” the losing side) was to blame for the repeal’s success. Questions have also been raised about how Webster’s referendum campaign was funded, however.
Finally, Mr. Webster referred to this one large donor as pushing his weight around to support special interest groups. In fact, Maine voters were offended by the original measure’s assertion that preventing same-day voter registration was needed to prevent voter fraud. Supporters of the original discard presented no legitimate data that voter fraud has taken place at Maine polls. In an off-year election, 60% of the vote is kind of difficult to explain away as a “special interest” group. Mathematically, it seems clear that the successful repeal was supported by a coalition of voters from more than one political party.
I’m just saying that when a combination of voters from both parties unite to do sensible things, it seems wrong to continue to promote it as an unfair partisan conflict.