With Maine summer in full swing many of us are attending fairs and festivals across the state and visiting our beautiful state parks and beaches.

While you’re out you may see volunteers collecting signatures to help overturn a law passed by the Republican legislature that limits voting rights.

During the legislative session, Republicans in Augusta passed a law eliminating Election Day registration. As a result, Maine people will no longer be able to register to vote on Election Day.

Eliminating Election Day registration is bad for Democracy. It makes it harder for Mainers to vote. It is a solution in search of a problem.

Some proponents of the law say it will eliminate fraud. But even the Republican Secretary of State wrote in the Bangor Daily News and have given public testimony that Maine does not have problems with fraud.

In fact, the records show there have only been two cases of fraud in the last 38 years.

Just this week Republican party chairman Charlie Webster tried to mislead the public by creating a list of college students who both paid out-of-state tuition and registered to vote in Maine. He suggested this list was evidence of fraud.

The stunt reeked of Cold-War era McCarthyism, where a political figure created fear and spread allegations without any fact. They even had a secret list!

Despite Webster’s effort to mislead the public, the facts remain the same.

It is illegal to vote in two places. If anyone — college student or not — does that, they will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

But registering to vote in the town where you live and paying out-of state tuition has nothing to do with election fraud.

Maine law and the Supreme Court say that students may register to vote in the town where they live.

It’s that simple. You may register to vote where you live.

The right to vote in Maine does not depend on how you pay college tuition.

Webster’s attack on young people choosing to pursue an education in Maine is wrong. We should encourage young people to pursue their educations in Maine. We should encourage young people to vote, not block their participation in Democracy.

Eliminating Election Day Registration won’t change the fact that students can both register to vote in the town where they live and be required to pay out-of-state-tuition by their university.

Eliminating Election Day registration only makes it harder for Maine people to vote.  It makes it harder for people who are older, or disabled, or move often and have trouble getting to the Town hall or office to register a change of address.

During the last two elections, nearly 70,000 Mainers registered to vote on Election Day. That’s 70,000 Mainers that would not have been able to cast their vote under the new law.

They come from cities, suburbs, rural Maine, retirement homes and college campuses. They were not a faction or an organized group. They represented every kind of Mainer and they all voted their conscience.

Election Day registration engages more people in Democracy.

Maine ranks among the top three states in America for voter turn out because of our Election Day registration law. Election Day registration increases voter participation.

Encouraging participation in Democracy shouldn’t be partisan.

It makes no sense to make it harder for people to vote in Maine.

It’s hard to understand why this is a priority when Maine people face so many real problems.

I hope to see this law overturned.


Rep. Mike Carey lives in Lewiston.