Monday, February 8, 2021
Contact: Kristen Schulze Muszynski

Secretary Bellows supports legislation to increase voter participation

AUGUSTA — Secretary of State Shenna Bellows testified today in support of LD 148 “An Act To Establish Ongoing Absentee Voting.”

The bill, sponsored by House Speaker Ryan Fecteau, provides a process for a voter to request absentee voter status for all elections. The voter would then automatically receive an absentee ballot for all elections until the status is terminated. Under current Maine law, voters must request an absentee ballot for each election in which they do not plan to vote in-person.

“This legislation would benefit all Maine voters who prefer absentee voting – particularly seniors and voters with permanent disabilities,” said Secretary Bellows. “This is a simple step we can take toward our goal of making voting more accessible for all Maine citizens, and increasing voter participation.”

Absentee voting has grown in popularity during recent years, reaching 514,429 absentee votes cast and counted in the November 2020 General Election, approximately 62% of all votes cast, and up from just over 258,000 absentee ballots cast in 2016.

Secretary Bellows, in her testimony, advised that technology upgrades will be necessary for the State Elections division to maintain a single permanent absentee list at the state level, to ensure integrity of the process, which she said is achievable by the bill’s implementation deadline of 2023.

In addition to LD 148, Secretary Bellows also supports Rep. Teresa Pierce's proposal to improve voter access to the democratic process by establishing an online platform for voter registration.