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Dear Members and Friends of LWVME,

Well, today is the day: the deadline for the Secretary of State to certify signatures on the people's veto petition for ranked choice voting. We'll know by 5:00 this afternoon. Read more below and stay tuned.

Meanwhile, the Legislature will be in full session this week beginning on Tuesday at 10:00. You can see their full schedule for the week here

Coming Up This Week

Ranked Choice Voting
The people's veto campaign to restore ranked choice voting delivered over 70,000 signatures to the Secretary of State by the deadline of Friday, February 2. In doing so, they immediately suspended the law passed by the Legislature that delayed implementation of RCV. Put another way, RCV goes ahead for the 2018 primaries IF 61,123 out of those 70,000 signatures are certified by the end of the day TODAY.  This not only requires use of RCV for the June primaries, but also puts the people’s veto on the ballot in the same election.  Read more at www.lwvme.org.

Read League President Jill Ward's op-ed in the Bangor Daily News.
The League of Women Voters of Maine is calling for faithful implementation of RCV for the June primaries in 2018 and for allocating any resources that might be needed. Elections matter; let's get to work; let's get this right. 

Recap from Last Week
Voter ID

The Governor's bill was just printed last week and has not yet been referred to committee. It's LD 1846, An Act To Require the Provision of Photographic Identification by Voters. It appears to be similar boilerplate language to what has been introduced and defeated each session since 2010. You can read the League's testimony on the photo ID bill from last year. Even though we have defeated this measure in Maine numerous times before, we can't take anything for granted this year. The Bangor Daily News reported that the Speaker of the House is promising to block the move. We'll be watching, too. We have repeatedly and consistently opposed requiring a photo ID to vote, and we'll be there this year, too.

Gathering Signatures at the Polls on Election Day
LD 1726 An Act to Amend the Laws Governing Elections got another work session in the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee last Monday. You'll remember that LD 1726 is the bill that would ban signature gathering for citizen initiatives at polling places on Election Day. The public hearing on this bill was held in the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee (VLA) on Wednesday, January 3 You can read the League's testimony here. The sentiment from the public hearing was overwhelmingly opposed. The VLA Committee voted a divided report, with some members in favor of elminating the controversial provisions and some looking for a way to institute some limits. Based on what we heard on Monday, it seems unlikely that the two sides will come together to pass anything.

Old News
Funding for Clean Elections
LD 1780 An Act to Transfer Funds to the Maine Clean Election Fund To Provide Adequate Funding for Maine Clean Election Fund Candidates
No change from last week. This bill had its public hearing on February 14, and LWVME testified in support of LD 1780. We now have 1 qualified MCEA candidate for governor and 7 others hoping to qualify (2 Democrats, 1 Republican, 2 Greens, and 3 independents). That's really great! Thanks to our hard work last session with our partners at Maine Citizens for Clean Elections, we secured the baseline funding for Clean Elections in the state budget. With this heightened level of candidate participation, the Ethics Commission is playing it safe and requesting additional funding to make sure we don't run out. The fund has never run out before in the 18-year history of the program, and we don't want to start now.  We will continue advocating for full funding until final action on LD 1780.

Presidential Primaries vs. Caucuses
No change from last week. On January 3, the Office of the Secretary of State delivered its Report Regarding Establishing a Presidential Primary System in Maine. The requirement for this report was created by the 127th Legislature, which passed a presidential primary law and directed the Secretary of State to examine state and municipal costs for conducting such a primary and report back by December 1, 2017. The legislation enacted in 2016 includes an automatic repeal provision with an effective date of December 1, 2018.  Therefore, if the legislature does not take action this session, our presidential nominations will revert to the caucus system and not primaries. There has been no action so far.

Amending the Maine State Constitution for Citizen Initiatives
No change from last week. LD 31,
RESOLUTION, Proposing an Amendment to the Constitution of Maine To Require That Signatures on a Direct Initiative of Legislation Come from Each Congressional District was carried over from the first session. It was taken up in the VLA Committee as one of their first actions in the second session and reported out on January 18 with a divided report (11 voting Ought to Pass as Amended; 1 voting Ought Not to Pass). The bill has not yet been taken up on the floor in either chamber, but it could come up at any time. If you want to let your legislators know your views on this measure, you can find contact information here.

Under the Radar
Amending the U.S. Constitution
A couple of troubling measures have been working their way through the State and Local Government Committee that propose calling for so-called Article V Conventions to amend the U.S. Constitution. One, HP 1232, is a Joint Resolution proposing an amendment to require Congressional term limits. The other, HP 1251, is a Joint Resolution calling for a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The League strenuously opposes both measures and offered testimony on a similar resolution last session. We are anticipating divided committee reports on both bills.

Join Us!  If you are not already a member of the League, we need your help now to carry out our mission and to strengthen our democracy. Please join us.
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