Update: The Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee voted 8-5 "ought not to pass." This bill now goes to the full legislature.
This bill would require Mainers to present photo ID at the polls in order to vote. Research shows that more than 21 million Americans do not have government-issued photo identification; a disproportionate number of these Americans are low-income, racial and ethnic minorities, or elderly. Many of these Americans cannot afford to pay for the required documents needed to secure a government-issued photo ID.
The issue of voter ID was comprehensively investigated and rejected by the 2012 Elections Commission, chaired by former Superior Court Judge John Atwood. The commission was formed by then-Secretary of State Charles Summers pursuant to a 2011 voter ID bill that was amended into a study. The Commission researched legal cases, considered white papers, and held hearings across the state of Maine, hearing from hundreds of Mainers. In their final report, members of the Commission weighed the pros and cons of a voter ID law in Maine and recommended against voter ID, finding that “the negative aspects of a Voter ID law outweigh its potential benefits.”
If we really want to protect the integrity of elections in Maine, we should look for ways to help more qualified people vote - not make it harder for them to cast a ballot. Maine has always been a leader in ensuring access to the ballot and we should fight to keep it that way. Maine should not follow the lead of states that are making it harder for their citizens to participate in democracy.