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Bill Allowing Unenrolled Voters to Participate in Primaries Draws Broad Support

Unenrolled voters in Maine can cast ballots in party primaries, but they have to join a recognized party to do so. Lawmakers are considering a bill that will remove that requirement.

The measure drew broad support with both Democrats and Republicans. Former Republican U.S. Rep. David Emery told the Legislature’s Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee it’s a good idea.

“I think that the time has come for the Legislature to start thinking about ways that we can make the process more inclusive and allow independent and unenrolled voters to participate,” he says.

Emery says that both major parties need unenrolled voters to win the general election, and it makes sense to let them participate in the nominating process.

But a member of the Democratic Party State Committee, Louis Siegel of Gardiner, argued that the existing law is just fine, and if you want to vote in a party primary, you should join that party.

“This has not proven to solve the problems that these people have seen, so I would strongly urge you to maintain the closed primary,” he says.