New This Week Ranked Choice Voting Read League President Jill Ward's op-ed today 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.
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. 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. Since the number of signatures far exceeds the required threshold, we are confident that the veto question will qualify for the June ballot. The Secretary of State has 30 days -- until March 5 -- to verify the signatures and certify the question for the June ballot. Read more at www.lwvme.org.
Governor LePage used his Friday radio address on January 5 to reopen the Voter ID issue. You can find the radio address here MP3 Audio, Text version. 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.
Coming Up in the Legislature Gathering Signatures at the Polls on Election Day Veterans and Legal Affairs (VLA), State House Room 437, beginning at 10:30 a.m.Live Audio LD 1726 An Act to Amend the Laws Governing Elections will get another work session in the VLA Committee today, Monday, February 26. The League will be there. You'll remember that LD 1726is 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 seems divided, with some members in favor of elminating the controversial provisions and some looking for a way to institute some limits. If your legislator serves on the VLA Committee, you may want to let them know your views. You can find contact information for committee members here.
No change from last week. This bill had its public hearing last Wednesday, and LWVME testified in support of LD 1780. We now have 9 candidates hoping to qualify as Clean Election candidates for Governor (3 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.