AUGUSTA — By a single vote, the Maine Senate approved a bill Wednesday that would require voters to produce photographic identification at the polls when voting.

The 18-17 vote followed a lively floor debate in which Republican supporters of the bill argued that protecting the integrity of the state’s voting system was their primary objective.

Two Republicans, Sens. Roger Katz of Augusta and Brian Langley of Ellsworth, joined Democrats in opposing the bill.

If the bill, LD 197, were to pass into law, Maine would become the 32nd state to require some form of photo identification at the polls.

The bill’s sponsors said that voting should be treated the same as other activities that require proof that a person is who they say they are, including buying alcohol, cigarettes, or even being allowed to vote in a union election.

“Does not the privilege of voting deserve to be protected in the same manner?” state Sen. Andre Cushing, R-Hampden, asked his colleagues.


But opponents said the requirement could block some people from the right to cast ballots.

State Sen. Nathan Libby, D-Lewiston, said his city’s clerk offered testimony against the bill, saying she believed it would disenfranchise many voters, especially the elderly, poor and disabled.

“This is going to make their ability to exercise their right, not their privilege, to cast their ballot more difficult,” Libby said. 

Others in opposition said the bill was a solution to a problem that didn’t exist and noted the Legislature previously has rejected attempts to require photo identification at the polls.

“Here we go again – deja vu all over,” said state Sen. John Patrick, D-Rumford. “Another attempt to find a solution that is not a real problem.” Patrick went on to say Maine frequently is heralded nationally for its high voter turnout and its well-run election process.

But Senate Majority Leader Garrett Mason, R-Lisbon, said there is a problem.


“It is incredulous that we would claim that there is no voter fraud in Maine,” Mason said. “This is a way to crack down on that and protect the integrity of the election process in Maine.”

The legislation would allow a person without identification to cast a provisional ballot and gives them five days to produce identification to election officials in order to have their ballot validated. The measure includes a cost because it provides for free state identification cards for those who cannot afford to pay the fee.

The bill next will go to the House of Representatives where it faces an uphill battle with the Democratic majority.

[email protected]

Member Party Vote
  ALFOND of Cumberland D N
  BAKER of Sagadahoc R Y
  BRAKEY of Androscoggin R Y
  BREEN of Cumberland D N
  BURNS of Washington R Y
  COLLINS of York R Y
  CUSHING of Penobscot R Y
  CYRWAY of Kennebec R Y
  DAVIS of Piscataquis R Y
  DIAMOND of Cumberland D N
  DILL of Penobscot D N
  EDGECOMB of Aroostook R Y
  GERZOFSKY of Cumberland D N
  GRATWICK of Penobscot D N
  HAMPER of Oxford R Y
  HASKELL of Cumberland D N
  HILL of York D N
  JOHNSON of Lincoln D N
  KATZ of Kennebec R N
  LANGLEY of Hancock R N
  LIBBY of Androscoggin D N
  MASON of Androscoggin R Y
  McCORMICK of Kennebec R Y
  MILLETT of Cumberland D N
  MIRAMANT of Knox D N
  PATRICK of Oxford D N
  ROSEN of Hancock R Y
  SAVIELLO of Franklin R Y
  THIBODEAU of Waldo R Y
  VOLK of Cumberland R Y
  WHITTEMORE of Somerset R Y
  WILLETTE of Aroostook R Y
  WOODSOME of York R Y

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: