In June, we reported that Maine repealed its long tradition of allowing voters to register and cast their ballot on Election Day.
Luckily, the story doesn’t end there: a people’s veto campaign is underway to restore Election Day Registration (EDR) to Maine. The movement is spearheaded by a collation of nonprofits, including the Maine Women’s Lobby, Engage Maine, the Disability Rights Center, Maine Education Association, the Maine League of Young Voters, and others.
Last week, the Maine secretary of state approved the wording for the referendum question that could potentially appear on the ballot: “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?”
Signature gathering kick-off events were held on Friday, and volunteers began their work over the weekend. They have less than a month to collect more than 57,000 signatures in order to put the issue on the November ballot. If they are unable to meet that deadline, they would still have the opportunity to put the question before voters in June 2012.
EDR has been popular in Maine, with close to 60,000 voters using it in November 2008, along with 18,000 voters in last year’s midterm. By making voting more convenient, EDR helps to boost turnout–states with EDR have turnout rates that are 10-12% higher than states without it.
While many states are restricting access to the ballot with new voter ID laws and shortened early voting periods, it’s exciting to see a well-organized, nonprofit-led movement taking a stand for voting rights.