FARMINGTON — Thirty Franklin County residents bearing homemade signs telling people to “Vote Yes on One” paraded through town Saturday in a rally to restore Election Day voter registration.

Some softly chanted, “We will occupy; we will occupy.”

Others raised voices to drivers on Routes 4 and 27, telling them to vote yes while vigorously pumping their signs up and down for emphasis.

Along the chilly walk from the Farmington Park ‘n’ Ride lot to Meetinghouse Park, where they met rally rouser Janet Mills, their ranks swelled to 45.

“I’m appalled, as I’m sure you are, by recent TV ads and inserts in the newspapers (saying) that they are protecting ethics,” said Mills, Maine’s former attorney general.

She was referring to the political action committee Secure Maine’s Ballot, which opposes referendum Question 1. The people’s veto seeks to protect Maine’s 38-year-old law allowing citizens to register to vote on Election Day. Approval of Question 1 would repeal a law passed by the Legislature to end same-day registration.

The PAC opposing the repeal has aired a 15-second ad that claims outside interests are trying to get rid of Maine’s “ethics law.”

“We are the ones that are protecting ethics, protecting the rights of our voters, old and young!” Mills yelled to several shouts of, “Right on!”

“This is Franklin County, Maine! We do it with integrity and we do it right!” Mills said.

Walking two abreast up and down sidewalks lining Broadway and chanting, “Vote Yes on One,” the group noisily strolled to the Post Office where they held another loud rally.

Afterward, they went to the Wicked Gelato Cafe on Main Street to listen to former Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap explain why Election Day registration matters.

Dunlap, who walked with the group from the Park ‘n’ Ride lot carrying a sign that read, “Voting (as American as Apple Pie),” climbed and stood on a chair proffered by Mills and stridently shared what he had to say.

“Every American citizen has an unimpeachable right to vote!” Dunlap, of Old Town, yelled to applause.

“It cannot be taken away,” he said. “It’s guaranteed in the Constitution. Any barrier that we put before a voter must be very, very thoughtfully considered.”

Election Day registration is important because the more people who participate in the process, the more legitimate it is, Dunlap said.

“If you close anyone off, you bring into question the integrity of the process,” he said. “This is about the right of the people to have their voice heard.”

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