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Mainers Debate Voter ID Proposal — Again

A proposal to require voters to show identification at the ballot box drew opposition at a public hearing Wednesday. But unlike in years past, participation was fairly sparse, and speakers, like Sue Hawes, seemed weary of the issue.

"I'm personally frustrated that this voter ID bill comes up and is defeated every two years,” Hawes says. “I feel it's such a waste of resources and time."

Opponents say the bill disenfranchises Mainers who are less likely to have a driver's license or state ID, such as the elderly.

The bill is sponsored by Republican Representative Richard Cebra, of Naples, and would require voters to provide an official photo ID when attempting to vote.

No one spoke in favor of the bill, but proponents have argued that voter ID laws are meant to discourage voter fraud and that showing an ID is standard procedure for a number of activities and should not pose an extraordinary hardship.

But the Secretary of State's office opposes the bill. On Wednesday, Deputy Secretary Julie Flynn described it as a "solution for which there is no documented problem."

Ann Luther, with the Maine League of Women Voters, was one of a handful of people to testify at a public hearing Wednesday. She says as many as 15 percent of Mainers don't possess an official ID.

"So the state would be obligated to provide those photo IDs, to go to the trouble of setting up facilities for them to get IDs without extraordinary cost or difficulty, and that will require measures by the state that have been expensive in other states, especially to avoid constitutional challenge," Luther says.