A question of voter turnout, Maine integrity

An estimated 6 percent of votes cast in Maine’s last election were cast by citizens who registered to vote on Election Day.

If Maine fails to preserve Election Day registration at the polls on Nov. 8, we would be saying that — going forward — those citizens don’t matter and those votes shouldn’t count.

That’s not the sentiment of Maine people, nor is it in the public’s interest to dismiss a single vote, which is why we must vote “yes” on Question 1 next week to preserve Election Day registration.

One of the most compelling reasons to do that comes from town and city clerks themselves, including Orono Clerk Wanda Thomas, who may very well be the state’s top expert on issues of college town registrations since she serves the electorate of the University of Maine.

Thomas told mainecampus.com — the UMaine student newspaper — that she makes sure to staff the campus resident-only district precinct with extra clerks on Election Day to process registrations.

If students lose the Election Day option, Thomas said, they would have to register at the Town Office where “more staff may need to be hired year-round because there would be no way to gauge when registrants would come in.”

Elimination of Election Day registration would, as Thomas understands it, cost government more to administer.

At a time when all levels of government are doing everything possible to cut costs, now is not the time to increase the financial burden on taxpayers.

Then, there’s the burden on government personnel.

Eliminating Election Day registration was, according to lawmakers, designed to give clerks time to verify registrants’ legal status. But, there’s no enforcement language in the law requiring clerks to do so, just an understanding that they will.

But will they?

In the more than 200 days since 206 public college students accused by GOP Chairman Charlie Webster of possible fraud were registered on Election Day last year, or in the more than 2,000 days since a dozen St. Joe’s College students accused of the same were registered to vote in 2004, no residency checks were performed. Following Webster's accusations, all students were checked and all accusations were found baseless.

But, realistically, without enforcement language written into the law to require clerks to verify residency, two days might as well be 200, or 2,000.

But that’s really a minor point.

Last year, of the 623 UMaine students who voted on campus, 500 registered on Election Day, according to Thomas. If Maine had imposed the two-day rule last year, some of those 500 would probably have registered in time to vote, but we cannot assume that all would have because some people are born procrastinators, which is not a crime.

Hindering the full opportunity for any of those students to vote, without verifiable evidence that we are courting fraud, is not good politics.

Finally, let’s also consider that the impassioned dual arguments presented to the Legislature that resulted in the elimination of Election Day registration: the specter of widespread fraud and the problem of busloads of students rushing poll places each Election Day.

Both assertions were intended to frighten; both were determined to be groundless.

Sure, there are some get-out-the-vote efforts on Election Day among both parties, but no precinct has ever reported being overwhelmed by busloads of students arriving on Election Day to swing elections. And, there is no rampant voter fraud, with only two cases uncovered in decades.

So, what may have seemed to lawmakers to be convincing arguments are simply not true. The Legislature was duped and, one week from today, voters have an opportunity to reverse a law that was adopted based on a campaign of false information.

We urge voters to protect and preserve Election Day registration, to take a stand that every vote counts and to do all possible to ensure that every vote is counted.

Vote “yes” on Question 1.

jmeyer@sunjournal.com

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Comments

Steve  Dosh's picture

A question of voter turnout, Maine integrity

. . ...Yes ?
" All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent. " - Tom Jefferson
i got more ---> " The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions, that I wish it to be always kept alive. " <-- Tom , again , e . g., Occupy Wall St.
#3 : "I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. Already they have raised up a monied aristocracy that has set the government at defiance. The issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the people to whom it properly belongs." Same dude . . ...
11.08.11 ? \/ote ? /s, Dr. Dosh , Hawai'i •
& Hooray for the 4th estate , i . e. , you guys :)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fourth_Estate

To much liberalism

This paper and all comments for same registering and voting are contributing to the laziness of society. On election day your clerk should be monitoring the voting machines and making sure each voter gets all their ballots needed to vote. The costs on election day could be much less if same day registration were done away with. I'm a Democrat and I feel that geting rid of same day registration does not in any way impede my right to vote. I believe the law should read that you have to register 7 days in adnvance if you are not on a towns register. Do away with provisional ballot. Show multiple proofs of your residency at time of registration. Place it on a state wide system as a check. At point of registration it automatically removes name from any previous registration. Yes in this age of technology that should be accomplishable. So to the writer of this editorial and those who want to continue to make people lazy, you are irresponsible at to the worst level.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Well stated Frank...spot on.

Well stated Frank...spot on.

Mark Elliott's picture

Hey Pirate, look! It's the

Hey Pirate, look! It's the illusive "sensible democrat"! Kudos Frank, for having the courage to speak your mind even if it goes against the "party grain"!

Jason Theriault's picture

The problem

The problem, as I see it, is that the republican motives seem to be to disenfranchise, not to protect the integrity of the vote.

Now, disagree with me if you want, but I will present my reasons, and please, if you can, refute them.

As said above, the fraud accusations are baseless, and there is no provisions requiring residency checks, so there is no mechanism to force extra fraud checks if you register ahead of time. The only time this law does try and prevent fraud is subject ballots and the voters who cast them without registering prior to the three day limit to far more scrutiny. You can vote without registering three days ahead, but you have to use a provisional ballot. You have to submit all sorts of extra paperwork to try and prove your residency. The town clerk must then go through the provisional ballots and approve or discard the ballots based on the paperwork submitted with the ballot.

The problems I have with this system are numerous.
1. Widespread fraud is committed far in advance. If you search for voter/registration fraud, these were all done far in advance of three days. And without law to take advantage of the period between registration and voting, any claims that one is trying to prevent fraud seem false.

2. Provisional ballots are not secret. There is data connecting your ballot to you. That is not acceptable. If it's ok to tie a ballot to someone, we should do it for everyone. That would be the best way to eliminate fraud. You can't just do it for some, and not for all.

3.Republicans intentions are suspect. After the fun with redistricting we just went through, alot of people are questioning Republican motives. And when you see other republicans like Speaker William O'Brien of the New Hampshire state house calling college kids voting behavior "foolish" and ridiculed them for voting "liberal", it makes it really suspect.
(Link to the story about the speaker)
http://voices.washingtonpost.com/44/2011/03/video-foolish-college-kids-j...

So I tend to try and give the benefit of the doubt, but each time I have with this administration/legislature, I regret it.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Nice try, but it's all really

Nice try, but it's all really about laziness, apathy, and a knack for gaming the system.

Jason Theriault's picture

Ahhh

Yes, don't make any real point, just insult the other side. That way, you don't have to answer any of my points.

But, from the last letter discussing it, here's a list of Republicans(I say republicans because democrats are for same day registration) who used it. Would that make them lazy, apathetic or are they trying to game the system?

Governor Paul LePage
Lance Dutson, chief executive officer of the Maine Heritage Policy Center
Sen. Garrett Mason, Lisbon Falls
Sen. Lois Snowe-Mello, Poland
Rep. Bernard Ayotte, Caswell
Rep. Eleanor Espling, New Gloucester
Rep. Patrick Flood, Winthrop
Rep. David Johnson, Eddington
Rep. Aaron Libby, Waterboro
Rep. David Richardson, Carmel
Rep. Amy Volk, Scarborough.

Mark Elliott's picture

BS argument Jason... If it's

BS argument Jason... If it's available, it will be used by all. Those very same republicans will NOT feel disenfranchised with a same day ban. They will register two days earlier and not cry about it. This "list" you have is proof that the intent behind the ban has nothing to do with simply disenfranchising voters. They've obviously used same day registration and have seen the holes themselves making their opinion even more valid, they are experienced!.....nice try though. Epic fail!

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Insult the other side? Like

Insult the other side? Like what the left is trying to do to Herman Cain? Where's the outrage of racism from the left on this one? Everything else is racism; why isn't this? Ohh, is it because the right is racist for supporting Cain?

Terry Donald's picture

!!

Kudos! I think the whole voter registration issue should bring us to a new level. Why is it that we require 2 separate actions to vote?
The local towns, the state, the government knows who we are and where we live. Why do we have to reigister and then vote?
I think that in this era of new technology, and shared information, towns, states and the federal government have enough information about who we are and where we live via drivers license, tax forms, fees, permits, needs, titles, that any citizen, of age, should be able to walk into the polling place where they live and just vote.
They do it in Canada, and a higher percentage of people vote there than here in the US.

CLAIRE GAMACHE's picture

Bogus comparisons

The most important reason for keeping same day registration is that it works and there is no valid reason for not keeping what works. The most compelling reason given for changing it is that other states don't have same day registration; other states that have lower turnouts that is. Comparing voting to shopping is bogus. You shop 364 days a year but you vote 1 day a year. If you don't buy bread next Tues. you can buy it on Wed. If you miss your chance to vote next Tues it is gone forever. Basically we are being told we need to do this because Republicans want us to; plain and simple. Since it doesn't inconvenience them that much the rest of us shouldn't mind. That is the worst reason of all for changing anything. And to add insult to injury they tell us that if we object to this pointless bullying we must be lazy or unpatriotic. The real patriots will protect their right to vote and register on election day.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Incandescent light bulbs

Incandescent light bulbs work, too, but they'll be banned next year.

Jason Theriault's picture

Do you agree with that?

Do you think the old bulbs should be banned?

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Except for needing a HAZMAT

Except for needing a HAZMAT Team to clean up if you break one, I kind of like the CFLs. They ARE overpriced, but they last forever, it seems. No, I don't think the incandescents should be banned. We should be allowed to have a choice, as we do now. But, we can thank Baldacci if the ban does take place.

Jason Theriault's picture

Actually....

You can blame President Bush and the 110th congress for passing the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.

I'm not a fan of CFLs. I like LEDs better. Safer too.

That said, I think requiring lightbulbs to be 25% more effecient(which is why incandescents are out) is stupid. People should be able to choose to waste power or not. Just like people should be able to choose to register the day of an election unless there is a good reason not to allow them. I have yet to hear one.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Just like people should be

Just like people should be allowed not to buckle up if they so choose? After all, bikers aren't required to wear helmets.
Numerous states, I think 40 give or take, do not allow same day voter registration. Reason enough for me. The parrot disagrees, but he's a liberal.

Mark Elliott's picture

Oh Pirate, I wish you hadn't

Oh Pirate, I wish you hadn't used that helmet/seat belt comparison! They are two totally different birds. While I support choice on BOTH issues, there is a good argument on seat belt use that is hard to debate. They help to keep the driver in his seat and in control of the vehicle in the event of contact with another object.....which in turn keeps those around you safe. A helmet affects ONLY the rider.

There is a very good reason why we have to wear seat belts even though I don't have to wear my helmet. Motorcyclists have been defending our right to choose since the 70s on this issue. When the seat belt bill was submitted, drivers sat on their hands and did nothing so the argument that we should wear helmets just to make it "fair" to the drivers wearing seat belts is bogus and unfair to us. If you want it to be "fair" then I suggest drivers speak up and put in the time and effort we have for decades.

That's how it works. If you don't like a law, you can speak out and change it but it's best to do it BEFORE the bill is signed. In the event the bill is signed without your knowledge (because you are not paying attention) Maine is one of only 20 or 21 states that allows a peoples veto. In the event you want to initiate a peoples veto on a law in Maine, all you need to do is collect signatures in the amount of approximately 1/3 of the votes that got the sitting governor into office. As much as I hate to say this, it has not required very many under this OR the last governor. So to all those 61%ers out there, be careful for what you wish because a governor elected with a higher percentage of votes makes it harder for anyone to file a peoples veto! It will make it harder for you to change something you don't like!!!

As much as I disagree with the group trying to reinstates same day registration, they are doing a better job at effecting change than drivers did with seat belts. They are doing it right......

David  Cote's picture

I disagree, Claire

I think the shopping comparison is unique and correct. If you were on the same side of the argument you may very well agree with that view as well. I also believe the bullying angle is vauge at best. I feel the left does most of the bullying within the confines of this issue with their claims of unpatriotism against people not in agreement with their view. Again, the abscence of same day registration does not, in any manner, impede upon one's right to vote. No hardship is created and no one willing to cast their ballot is denied in doing so. The motives of the left are clear...Preserve same day registration to secure the voting base the left knows agrees with their platform. I still don't know how I'll be voting on this issue. I don't care for the right's claims of preventing voter fraud. To me, that is bogus. However, the left's arguments for same day have been bogus as well. Maybe a little honesty from either side would convince me how I'll vote on it.

GARY SAVARD's picture

The 6% who registered to vote

The 6% who registered to vote on election day did so because it is available. To say that those people would not be able to vote if they had to register 48 hours before the election is like saying that 6% of people do their grocery shopping on Sunday, but if we go back to the days when large grocery stores were closed on Sunday, then 6% of the population would starve.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Well done, man.

Well done, man.

Mark Elliott's picture

Excellent comparison Gary!

Excellent comparison Gary!

Mark Elliott's picture

Your second paragraph is not

Your second paragraph is not only untrue, but irresponsible!

David  Cote's picture

The whole editorial is weak

I wonder how college students feel about being stereotyped as procrastinators, which is a polite word for slackers. As Mark pointed out that second paragraph in this text leaves a lot to be desired. If an individual's view on voting is one of high priority then that voter will be pro-active with how they approach an upcoming election, which includes becoming familiar with state election laws. This columnist's description of an average college student of being a procrastionator lends belief they are passive. College students are very active in political issues and if they care enough about their passion to vote then they will adhere to existing laws on how to vote. That's how it's done in forty-one other states. It's not a hardship or hassle to pre-register, just do the deed and be done with it.

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