2011 Maine Question 1

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Question 1: People's Veto
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?
Results
Response Votes %
Yes 237,024 60.44%
No 155,156 39.56%
Valid votes 392,180 99.08%
Invalid or blank votes 3,627 0.92%
Total votes 395,807 100.00%
Source: Office of the Secretary of State of Maine, Tabulation of Votes

Maine Question 1, "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?", was a 2011 people's veto referendum that rejected a bill repealing Election Day voter registration in Maine. The vote was held on November 8, 2011 after being placed on the ballot due to supporters collecting the necessary number of signatures. The veto effort was successful, with 237,024 votes in favor of repeal to 155,156 against repeal.

Background[edit]

Maine has permitted same-day voter registration since 1973.[1] Upon taking control of both houses of the Maine Legislature and the Governor's office simultaneously for the first time since 1963 in 2010, the Republicans passed LD 1376, which was signed by Gov. Paul LePage on June 21, 2011. The bill, sponsored by Speaker Robert Nutting, eliminated same-day voter registration along with prohibiting registration and absentee voting two business days before an election.[2][3] Maine Secretary of State Charlie Summers, in announcing his support for the bill, stated that "This is designed to relieve stresses on the system. People can try to assign falsehoods and nefarious reasons behind it, but that’s not what this is about."[4] Summers also wrote an editorial in which he stated that the bill was a proactive step to secure the integrity of elections, and not a step to prevent voter fraud. He also rejected the idea by opponents of the bill that same-day registration led to increased voter turnout, noting both that such turnout was high before same-day registration and increased with the passage of moter-voter legislation in 1990.[5]

The Maine chapter of AARP testified in opposition to the bill, claiming that it would make it harder for some senior citizens to vote, who would then have to go to their town or city office twice to register and vote instead of once.[4]

Maine Republican Party Chairman Charlie Webster generated controversy when claiming during the runup to LD 1376's passage that Democrats used same-day registration to "intentionally steal elections" and that they had "bused voters" into Maine to vote due to the allowing of same-day registration.[6] He later toned down his comments to state that he thought Democrats used same-day registration to "influence" elections, especially through college students and Job Corps members voting. Democrats heavily criticized his comments, claiming it reflected a true agenda of wanting to make electoral gains at democracy's expense.[7]

After passage of the bill, supporters of same-day registration launched a petition drive on July 8, 2011 to put the issue on the ballot though the group Protect Maine Votes. The question approved for circulation on the petition forms was "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?" They did not seek to repeal the portion of the law regarding absentee voting.[8][9] Some city clerks like the one in Bangor stated that they favored that portion of the law but had little issue with same-day registration.[4]

During the petition drive, supporters were critical of Webster and Secretary Summers for holding press conferences discussing voter fraud, claiming they were doing so to "play politics" and distract from the petition gathering effort.[8][10]

Supporters turned in over 68,000 signatures to Secretary Summers by the deadline of August 8, 2011, well over the required number of 57,277.[10] Summers announced 30 days later that enough signatures were verified to place the question on the ballot. As the only people's veto question to reach the ballot, it was automatically numbered Question 1 per Maine law.[11]

Campaign[edit]

Nutting and other opponents of repeal stated that their primary intent in passing the original bill was to reduce the workload on municipal clerks, who saw increased absentee and same-day voting, in order to better prevent voter fraud, [12] which they claimed was difficult to do with the constraints of same-day registration.[13] Nutting further noted that Mainers would have still had 247 days a year to register to vote, other states have periods of up to 30 days they can't register before an election, and that thinking Mainers would not adjust to such a requirement was an insult to them. [14] Some opponents of repeal also claimed same-day registration led to "lazy and uninformed people" voting.[15] Opponents organized under the name Secure Maine's Ballot.[16]

Supporters of repeal, led by Protect Maine Votes, stated claims by opponents of repeal about overworked municipal clerks were unsubstantiated, and that there was no evidence of a problem with voter fraud in Maine. They claimed that having same-day voter registration since 1973 is one reason for Maine's traditionally high rate of voter turnout, releasing studies to support their position, such as one that stated that the top five states in voter turnout all permitted same-day registration. They further claimed that the effort to pass the bill was an attempt to limit constituencies that traditionally vote Democratic from voting, such as college students.[17]

Protect Maine Votes further noted that many Republican officials now opposed to same-day registration had made use of it in the past, including Governor LePage, two state senators, and eight state representatives. Protect Maine Votes spokesman David Farmer, in announcing that finding, noted that "The day and time you register is not an indicator of your interest in the election."[18] They also noted that in 2010 roughly the same number of same-day registrants were Republicans as Democrats.[16]

It was noted by outlets like the Bangor Daily News that, since the active People's Veto effort suspended the bill repealing it, Mainers could still register on Election Day to vote on the measure.[16]

Notable endorsements[edit]

Supporters[edit]

Opponents[edit]

Polling[edit]

Date of opinion poll Conducted by Sample size Yes No Undecided Margin of Error
October 28-31, 2011[25] Public Policy Polling 673 48% 44% 7% ±3.8%
October 18-23, 2011[25] Critical Insights 600 51% 43% 6% ±4%
September 7, 2011[26] Pulse Opinion Research 500 53% 47% - ±4.5%

Results[edit]

Breakdown of voting by county[27]
County Yes Votes No Votes
Androscoggin 54.6% 17,614 44.1% 14,229
Aroostook 56.8% 9,436 42.6% 7,076
Cumberland 63.1% 57,769 35.6% 32,582
Franklin 60.1% 5,333 39% 3,636
Hancock 62.2% 10,468 37.1% 6,250
Kennebec 60.1% 21,452 39% 13,914
Knox 65.8% 8,673 33.1% 4,362
Lincoln 59.5% 7,410 40.2% 4,999
Oxford 57.9% 10,120 41.3% 7,216
Penobscot 59.8% 24,586 39.4% 16,187
Piscataquis 54.6% 2,530 45% 2,084
Sagadahoc 60.1% 7,732 39.5% 5,078
Somerset 57% 7,396 42.1% 5,459
Waldo 62.5% 6,972 37.1% 4,140
Washington 55% 5,466 44.2% 4,387
York 58.6% 33,904 40.5% 23,442
Total[28] 59.9% 237,027 39.2% 155,156

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Maine towns back Yes on 1, same-day voter signup — Politics". Bangor Daily News. 2011-10-11. Retrieved 2015-12-17.
  2. ^ a b "Maine groups want to revive same-day voter registration". The Boston Globe. 2011-06-24. Retrieved 2015-12-17.
  3. ^ a b "Summary". Mainelegislature.org. Retrieved 2015-12-17.
  4. ^ a b c d e Mistler, Steve (2011-06-01). "Maine Secretary of State supports bill eliminating same-day voter registration — Politics". Bangor Daily News. Retrieved 2015-12-17.
  5. ^ Summers, Charles E. (2011-06-02). "Ending same-day registration protects 'integrity of Maine's elections' — Opinion". Bangor Daily News. Retrieved 2015-12-17.
  6. ^ "Bill Nemitz: Ballot-box fraud? GOP fixes problem that isn't there". The Portland Press Herald. 2011-06-10. Retrieved 2015-12-17.
  7. ^ "GOP chairman's charge that Democrats 'steal' election causes stir — Politics". Bangor Daily News. 2011-06-10. Retrieved 2015-12-17.
  8. ^ a b "Secretary of State finds no student voter fraud but still pledges to improve system — Politics". Bangor Daily News. 2011-09-21. Retrieved 2015-12-17.
  9. ^ "Petition drive launched to repeal law that bans Election Day voter registration — Politics". Bangor Daily News. 2011-07-08. Retrieved 2015-12-17.
  10. ^ a b "Mainers likely to have say in Election Day voter registration — Politics". Bangor Daily News. 2011-08-08. Retrieved 2015-12-17.
  11. ^ "People's veto of same-day voter registration ban will be Question 1 in November — Politics". Bangor Daily News. 2011-09-08. Retrieved 2015-12-17.
  12. ^ "LePage signs bill banning same-day voter registration, but critics vow to fight — Politics". Bangor Daily News. 2011-06-21. Retrieved 2015-12-17.
  13. ^ a b c "Senate GOP, Dems clash over same-day voter registration — Politics". Bangor Daily News. 2011-06-08. Retrieved 2015-12-17.
  14. ^ "Lawmakers, Mainers Have Mixed Response To Recent Voting Measures - Portland News Story". 2011-07-10. Archived from the original on October 30, 2011. Retrieved 2015-12-17.
  15. ^ [1][dead link]
  16. ^ a b c "Fate of Election Day voter registration at stake with Question 1 — Politics". Bangor Daily News. 2011-10-19. Retrieved 2015-12-17.
  17. ^ "Same-day voter registration increases turnout, studies say — Politics". Bangor Daily News. 2011-10-03. Retrieved 2015-12-17.
  18. ^ [2][dead link]
  19. ^ a b "Mainers vote to continue Election Day registration — Politics". Bangor Daily News. 2011-11-08. Retrieved 2015-12-17.
  20. ^ "Yes on Question 1 — Opinion". Bangor Daily News. 2011-10-20. Retrieved 2015-12-17.
  21. ^ [3][dead link]
  22. ^ "Our View: Question 1: Maine should keep Election Day registration". The Portland Press Herald. 2011-10-30. Retrieved 2015-12-17.
  23. ^ "Maine groups want to revive same-day voter registration". The Boston Globe. 2011-06-24. Retrieved 2015-12-17.
  24. ^ Cover, Susan M. (2011-07-07). "Wording of people's veto is set". The Portland Press Herald. Retrieved 2015-12-17.
  25. ^ a b Cover, Susan M. (2011-11-03). "Polls: Question 1 a close call". Centralmaine.com. Retrieved 2015-12-17.
  26. ^ "Poll: Majority support repealing same-day registration | The Kennebec Journal, Augusta, ME". 2011-10-31. Archived from the original on October 31, 2011. Retrieved 2015-12-17.
  27. ^ "Bureau of Corporations, Elections & Commissions, Elections and Voting, Results, 2010-11 Tabulations". Maine.gov. Retrieved 2015-12-17.
  28. ^ Includes overseas voters