For nearly four decades, Maine has been one of eight states which provides same-day voter registration to voters at the polls. This policy of enfranchising the greatest number of Maine voters is likely to end, however, now that the GOP-controlled state legislature has passed a bill ending same-day registration and Tea Party Gov. Paul LePage is expected to sign it. Worse, state GOP Chairman Charlie Webster explained it was necessary to disenfranchise the thousands of Maine voters who take advantage of same-day registration every election year in order to save Maine from one of his paranoid fantasies:
“If you want to get really honest, this is about how the Democrats have managed to steal elections from Maine people,” Webster told a columnist for the Portland Press Herald in a piece published Friday. “Many of us believe that the Democrats intentionally steal elections.”
Sadly, Maine’s voter disenfranchisement bill is only the latest example of the Republican war on voting that began almost immediately after the GOP took over several statehouses this year. Numerous GOP state legislatures have rammed through “voter ID” laws which disenfranchise thousands of elderly, disabled, and low-income voters. Republicans typically justify these voter disenfranchisement laws by claiming that they are necessary to combat voter fraud at the polls, but in-person voter fraud is only slightly more common than unicorns. A recent Supreme Court decision upholding a voter ID law was only able to cite one example of in-person voter fraud in the last 143 years.
Nor are voter ID laws the only front in the GOP’s war on voting. As Jonathan Chait explains, their efforts also include measures “restricting early voting, shortening poll hours, [and] clamping down on students voting at their campus.” And in Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker (R) even plans to gut his state’s public financing program — a program designed to make candidates less dependent on wealth donors — in order to pay for a voter disenfranchisement law.
Yet, while the Maine GOP may have won a skirmish in the war on voting with their repeal of same day registration, it is anything but certain that they will win this war. The state’s Democrats hope to invoke Maine’s “people’s veto” process, which allows the voters to repeal a newly enacted state law by referendum. To invoke this procedure, they must collect just over 57,000 signatures before a 90-day window closes.