The photo above is our own Shenna Bellows, speaking at a press conference to support an early voting amendment to our state's constitution. The bill, which had a public hearing earlier today, was brought forward by Representative Mike Shaw of Standish. Representative Shaw and his town clerk both testified about the importance of instituting true early voting across the Pine Tree State.
You might be reading this and thinking "don't we already have early voting in Maine?" Not really. Maybe you, like me, go to your town and vote before election day. This is actually called "in person absentee voting", a process that some towns have adopted to help increase voter turnout by allowing voters more options than when the polls are open on election day. There's also absentee voting, which allows you to request a ballot by mail that you in turn mail back, 45 days before the election.
We're 100% behind this early voting amendment, because we believe voting is fundamental to our democracy. In fact, the right to vote is tied to so many other rights and is defended throughout our constitution. We support expanding access to voting, not limiting it.
Many Mainers - as many as 27% in the last election - vote absentee! Allowing true early voting, where the votes are counted at the time they are cast, would reduce the burden on clerks who now have to wait to submit absentee ballots after the polls close. We were thrilled to be joined by the League of Women Voters, the Maine Women's Lobby, the League of Young Voters, Representatives Berry and Beavers and a handful of supportive town clerks at today's public hearing and press conference. We're off to a great start and will keep you posted on our progress.