Augusta – The Committee on Veterans and Legal Affairs voted 8 to 5 “ought not to pass” on LD 322, which would require voters to show identification at the polls in order to vote. The ACLU has long opposed voter ID laws, which make it harder for qualified people to cast a ballot. The bill will now go to the full legislature for further votes.
More than 21 million Americans do not have government-issued photo identification. A disproportionate number of these Americans are poor people, people of color, or elderly. Many of them 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. In their final report, members of the Commission recommended against voter ID, finding that “the negative aspects of a Voter ID law outweigh its potential benefits.” Since then, the Maine legislature has rejected multiple voter ID bills.
The following quote can be attributed to Oamshri Amarasingham, advocacy director at the ACLU of Maine:
"The committee was right to reject this harmful bill, and the full legislature should do the same. Voter ID laws have been deliberately used around the country to make it harder for some people to vote. In particular, these discriminatory laws target poor people and people of color, who are less likely to have the required identification. Maine has always been a leader in voter turnout, and our elected leaders should fight to keep it that way."