It was another hectic day at the State House - with lots of activity but not many decisions. In the next few days, the legislature is poised to vote on a number of bills - including two that would interfere with our fundamental right to vote, six that would interfere with a woman's right to privacy and access to abortion or contraception amd one that would undo Human Rights Act protections for transgender people. We had a great grassroots lobby day yesterday during which one thing became crystal clear - it truly matters when legislators hear from their constituents. So now's the time!!! Contact your Senator or Representative and make your voice heard!
Voting: ACLU of MAINE continues to oppose the elimination of Election Day voter registration. LD 1376 is on the House calendar and may be decided tomorrow. To us it's pretty clear - while election day registration may create some bureaucratic burden for clerks, relieving their burden doesn't justify disenfranchising thousands of eligible Maine voters.
Similarly, LD 199, which would require a photo ID to vote is another uncalled for an unnecessary barrier to Mainer's seeking to exercise their fundamental right to vote.
Maine has had two cases of voter fraud in my lifetime, and both of those were cases of individuals using their own identity to try to vote more than once. We have a strong saying in Maine - if it ain't broke - don't fix it. Maine's voting laws work - we have the third highest voter turnout in the country and very few allegations of fraud. Leave Maine's voting laws alone!!
Finally - there's the cost. This article indicates that, from 2006-2010, Georgia spent $1.62 million to institute its photo ID law. And the Brennan Center's reportThe Cost of Voter ID Laws: What the Courts Say in reviewing the kinds of costs states can expect to incur when imposing a constitutional voter ID law explains that case law to date has established several basic principles that must be satisfied under the Constitution:
- First, photo IDs sufficient for voting must be available free of charge for all those who do not have them. States cannot limit free IDs to those who swear they are indigent.
- Second, photo IDs must be readily accessible to all voters, without undue burden. At a minimum, most states will likely have to expand the number of ID-issuing offices and extend their operating hours to meet this requirement.
- Third, states must undertake substantial voter outreach and public education efforts to ensure that voters are apprised of the law's requirements and the procedures for obtaining the IDs they will need to vote.
And LD 1463 would create new, vague, non-scientific defintion of an "unborn child" which would set the stage for fetal personhood and overturning of Roe v. Wade. Similar laws in other states have been used to jail and prosecute women for engaging in a wide range of lawful and unlawful behaviors perceived as placing their fetus at risk. Again - a solution in search of a problem. Maine already has laws to protect pregnant women from violence - including a law prohibiting Elevated Aggravated Assault on a Pregnant Person - a Class A crime that carries thirty years in prison.
Finally, Transgender Discrimination: Maine voters rejected discrimination in 2005 at the ballot boxes, but legislators now seek to carve out a cruel exception to allow discrimination against transgender Mainers in bathrooms. This bill would endanger transgender people and place businesses in an unenable postion of having to develop and enforce policies about transgender bathroom use. The House will likely vote on LD 1046 in tomorrow's session. Read the Bangor Daily News editorial opposing the bill here.