Maine’s strong voting laws are getting stronger
By Sen. Mike Tipping
We have an incredible privilege and responsibility to vote in Maine. To have the opportunity to come together and choose our leaders through a democratic process is inspiring, especially considering that so many places around the world don’t have that opportunity.
Serving as one of your elected officials, I understand the responsibility and trust that you have placed in me, and I understand the importance of strengthening the voting process.
Maine has been leading the way when it comes to strengthening voter laws over the last several years and we’ve had consistently high voter turnouts as a result. 75 percent of registered Maine voters cast ballots in the 2022 election, one of the highest voter turnouts in the country.
There has been a great deal of progress made in recent years to expand access to voting and make the process more accessible. Absentee ballots, cast both in-person and by mail, are used far more widely, towns have put secure ballot drop boxes in place all over the state, and you can now even track the status of your absentee ballot online.
There is also now automatic voter registration, which was passed in the last Legislature. Allowing Mainers to register to vote when they go to the BMV to get or renew their license helps streamline the process and create yet another avenue for getting registered.
Many of these changes have come because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which put stress on many of our systems and has changed the way we approach many of our daily activities. This stress-testing has revealed ways of making participating in our democracy easier and more accessible.
In recent years I have voted both early by absentee ballot and in-person on Election Day at different elections. I enjoy taking my 8-year-old kids with me to town hall to vote and get to show them the process of democracy. Plus, they get stickers.
My colleague, Sen. Teresa Pierce of Falmouth, submitted legislation in 2021 when she was a Representative in the House, which will allow for online voter registration and the Secretary of State has said they will be implementing that program this year. Hopefully this will appeal to new potential voters and continue to make this process of registering and voting easier while also lightening the workload for local town clerks.
This year, another colleague, Sen. Anne Carney of Cape Elizabeth, has submitted a bill, LD 26, which aims to provide prepaid return envelopes for voters’ absentee ballots. Voting is a right that we have in the United States. Nobody should have to pay in order to exercise that right or be denied their vote because they can’t find a stamp. I look forward to seeing this bill proceed through the legislative process.
If you or your family would like more information on our voting laws, need assistance or have thoughts on any issue, please feel free to contact me at Mike.Tipping@legislature.maine.gov or call my legislative office at 207-287-1515.