WASHINGTON -- Maine Secretary of State Charlie Summers (R) has confirmed that there are enough signatures for a "People's Veto" to be on the ballot in November. The initiative would invalidate a new law that prevents Maine citizens from registering to vote on Election Day.
In June, Maine's Republican-controlled state legislature voted largely along party lines to overturn the 38-year-old practice of allowing voters to register the same day they vote. The stated purpose of the new law was to prevent voter fraud and stolen elections.
"This bill is about preserving the integrity of the voter," said state Sen. Debra Plowman (R-Hamden) at the time of the bill's passage.
The Protect Maine's Votes coalition -- comprised of 18 groups that include organized labor, civil libertarians, consumer and public health advocates, and advocates for disabled and homeless people --- immediately launched the campaign to get the veto on the ballot in November, which would allow voters to either affirm or repeal the law saying that the repeal of same day registration makes voting for residents of Maine more difficult.
"Election day registration makes it possible for many hardworking Mainers to participate," said coalition leader Barbara McDade, president of the League of Women Voters of Maine. "Voting is fundamental to our democracy. We shouldn't create new ways to make participation harder."
The Secretary of State reported that around 70,000 signatures for the veto had been collected, well above the required 57,277 signatures to qualify for the state ballot.
Proponents of same day registration are confident they will be able to overturn the law.
"I have no doubt that the people of Maine will restore same day voter registration at the ballot box this November," said Ben Grant, chairman of the Maine Democratic Party in a press release.
"It never should have been removed in the first place. We've had this right for 38 years and it's done nothing but increase voter turnout and make it possible for hard-working Mainers who are struggling to make ends meet participate in our election process."
Maine House Speaker Robert Nutting (R-Oakland) has defended the right of Mainers to use the citizens' veto process, although he is confident they won't succeed in repealing the law.
"Here in Maine, the people's veto is part of our democratic process, and the extreme left-wing groups and individuals behind this signature-gathering effort have every right to try to pursue it," he told the Associated Press last month, adding, "I'm confident that Maine voters will reject it."