Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Public hearing held for Bellows, Luchini bill to increase access to voting

AUGUSTA — The Department of Secretary of State and Senator Louis Luchini, D-Ellsworth, proposed several changes to Maine’s election law to increase access to voting and streamline election administration.

L.D. 1830, “An Act To Amend the Election Laws” is the Department’s “agency bill” which traditionally is introduced each year to update Maine election laws. Among other issues, this bill addresses proof of identity for tribal members, the right to vote for residents of nursing homes and other residential care facilities and petition forms.

Specifically, the legislation allows identification cards from federally recognized Indian tribes to be used as proof of identity when registering to vote. The bill updates laws about voting on-site in nursing homes that pre-dated the pandemic to provide alternatives during public health emergencies or other local events to protect the right to vote and protect the health and safety of nursing home residents and election clerks.  Additionally, the bill clarifies how petitions are formatted to avoid problems that make petitions hard to read for Mainers with low literacy.

“All Maine citizens have the right to register to vote, sign petitions, and vote in our elections,” said Secretary of State Shenna Bellows. “This bill will protect and enhance those rights, while improving efficiency and security in election administration.”

“Over the past two years, Maine adjusted how we run elections to ensure that all voters could safely and securely make their voices heard. These changes have been a tremendous success,” said Sen. Luchini, who serves as chair of the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee. “This bill moves Maine forward again, making sure more voters — including seniors in nursing homes and tribal members — have access to the ballot box.”

The video of today’s public hearing is available on the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee’s YouTube. A work session on L.D. 1830 where committee members will vote on the measure will be scheduled in the coming weeks.