LD 197 makes voting harder, disproportionately disenfranchises elderly, disabled, minority and poor Mainers
“This measure does nothing but make it harder for Mainers to exercise their constitutional right to vote. We know that it suppresses voting and that it especially disenfranchises the elderly, individuals with disabilities, people of color and the poor,” said Rep. Louis Luchini, D-Ellsworth, the House chair of the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee. “It’s evident that we do not have a problem with voter fraud. Why are we considering a bill that is looking for a problem that clearly doesn’t exist?”
LD 197’s requirement to present photo identification to vote was met with overwhelming public opposition because it would create obstacles to citizen participation. Its opponents include AARP, the Maine Council on Aging, the League of Women Voters, Maine Municipal Association, the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine and the Maine Women’s Lobby.
“This has been, is now, and always will be about voter suppression,” said Rep. Craig Hickman, D-Winthop, before borrowing from the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “How Long? Not Long” speech at the end of the march from Selma to Montgomery, Ala. “Let us march on ballot boxes until all the vestiges of voter suppression disappear from the political arena. Our ancestors died for our right to vote, and today we have an opportunity to respect their memories and defeat LD 197 out of hand.”
In its report, the state’s 2012 Elections Commission noted that voter ID requirements may deter 10 to 12 percent of eligible voters from voting. The Maine Council on Aging, meanwhile, pointed out that 21 percent of individuals over 70 do not have a driver’s license. In Maine, the oldest state in the nation, that translates to 30,700 seniors.
A 2012 Carnegie Knight investigative report project performed a national analysis of more than 2,000 alleged cases of election fraud over a dozen years and found only 10 cases of alleged in-person impersonation – or about one in 15 million prospective voters
The measure now faces action in the Senate.