AUGUSTA – The ACLU of Maine will urge the Committee on Veterans and Legal Affairs to reject LD 197, "An Act To Strengthen Maine's Election Laws by Requiring Photographic Identification for the Purpose of Voting," at a public hearing in Augusta today.

“Voter ID laws are a return to the bad old days when people in power passed laws that made it harder for certain people to go to the polls,” said Oamshri Amarasingham, ACLU of Maine policy counsel. “Mainers have always prided themselves on turning out to vote, and this bill would strike a blow to that great tradition.”

In 2013, the Supreme Court overturned some parts of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that were meant to protect minority voters. Since then, some states have increased efforts to suppress the vote, including by introducing voter ID bills. Before 2011, only two states had ever imposed strict voter ID requirements; since then, dozens of states have introduced such legislation.

Many Americans – particularly poor people, people of color and the elderly – do not have the necessary identification that these laws require, and face barriers to voting as a result. Many of them cannot afford to pay for the required documents needed to secure a government-issued photo ID or have limited mobility, making it harder for them to secure ID.  

“By making it harder for certain groups to cast a ballot, burdensome voter ID laws undermine the equal protection of the Constitution and the fundamental right to vote,” said Amarasingham. “If we really want to protect the integrity of elections in Maine, we should be encouraging more qualified people to vote, not making it harder for them to do so.”