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Proposal To Allow Maine Voters To Register Online Draws Support In Committee Hearing

YE Top Stories Maine
Robert F. Bukaty
AP file
In this Nov. 3, 2020, file photo, caution tape closes off a voting stall to help distance voters to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus during election day at the East End School in Portland, Maine.

A proposal to allow online voter registration in Maine drew broad support at a hearing before the Legislature’s Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee on Monday.

"I know from firsthand experience that our democracy is only as strong as the people's participation in it," says state Rep. Teresa Pierce, a Falmouth Democrat who co-chairs the committee and sponsored the bill.

Pierce says online registration will expand voter access to the ballot box, enhance election security, and reduce the burden on municipal clerks who contended with hundreds of thousands of new registration requests last year.

"Online or OVR registration reduces the cost on our towns and election administrators, by eliminating the need for clerks to complete hours of burdensome manual data entry. That frees up time for our clerks to do what they do best: administer safe and secure elections," she says.

The measure was supported by several progressive advocacy groups and by Secretary of state Shenna Bellows. With 40 states already enacting such laws, Bellows assured committee members she would be able to implement online registration in time for the 2023 elections — including measures for verifying online signatures.