In a move that may be mirrored on a larger scale throughout the US the ACLU of Maine joined voting rights advocates from around the state in urging the governor and secretary of state to take steps to ensure all eligible Mainers can vote in upcoming elections.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted our lives in countless ways, but we cannot allow it to threaten our democracy,” said Alison Beyea, executive director of the ACLU of Maine. “The ability to have a say in our government is critical now more than ever, and there are steps we can take now to protect our elections.”
The COVID-19 pandemic is expected to cause significant barriers to voting in upcoming primary and general elections across the nation. Advocates told Gov. Mills and Secretary Dunlap that successful primary and general elections, in which as many eligible people are able to participate as possible, will require significant changes to the ways in which registration, absentee voting, and in-person voting are conducted. They suggested significant funding may be available from the federal government to support these efforts, for both the state and municipalities.
The groups’ recommendations to officials include:
- Flexibility in accepting voter registration applications by email and relaxing voter registration deadlines;
- Mailing an absentee ballot request to all registered voters and streamlining party enrollment through that process;
- Paid postage for absentee ballot requests and ballot returns;
- Massive, coordinated communication with voters;
- In-person voting compliant with CDC guidelines for other essential services; and
- Early voting and extended ballot counting deadlines.
The full recommendations are here: https://www.aclumaine.org/sites/default/files/votingrecs04062020.pdf
The organizations issuing the recommendations are: AARP of Maine, ACLU of Maine, Maine AFL-CIO, League of Women Voters of Maine, Maine Conservation Alliance, Maine Education Association, Maine People’s Alliance, Maine Service Employees Association – SEIU Local 1989, Maine Center for Economic Policy, Maine Equal Justice, Maine Women’s Lobby Education Fund, NextGen Maine, and Planned Parenthood of Northern New England.