Thursday, 25 April 2019 14:10

Bill would implement automatic voter registration

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AUGUSTA - Registering to vote may become a lot easier. Maine lawmakers are considering a proposal to implement automatic voter registration.

Several other states have done it, but it is not without controversy.


Right now in Maine, residents must fill out a voter registration card before they can vote. However, a bill submitted by Speaker of the House Sara Gideon would automatically register most adults starting in 2022. She presented the bill Wednesday during a public hearing.


If the law is passed, Maine would become the 19th state to adopt an automatic voter registration system.


Eligible Mainers would automatically be registered to vote when they do business with the Bureau of Motor Vehicles or another approved state agency.


Supporters say automatic registration would increase voter turnout and civic engagement.


Opponents, including Sen. Scott Cyrway, R-Albion, point to thousands of inaccurate voter records and non-citizens being registered in the state of California.


"I think the electronic one I'm not for, because it just makes it easy, yet there is room for problems," Cyrway said. 


Rep. Jay McCreight, D-Harpswell, supported the idea.


"I like any measure to increase voting. We need to help people be able to extend their voice and not put up roadblocks to it."


The Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee will hold work sessions on the bill in the coming weeks before sending it to the full legislature.