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Maine Lawmakers Consider Whether Photo ID Should Be Required To Vote

APTOPIX Election 2020 Maine Voting
Robert F. Bukaty
AP file
Voters wait to cast their ballots in the general election outside the East End Elementary School, Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020, in Portland, Maine.

As they are in most states, Republican lawmakers in Maine are proposing that voters be required to show photo ID before they enter the polls. Critics of several bills before the Legislature’s Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee Wednesday said they aren't necessary, and would only make it more difficult for Mainers to vote.

Currently 47 states are considering new requirements, such as photo ID, for voters. The sponsor of one bill in Maine, Republican Rep. Chris Johansen of Monticello, says that it is designed to stop voter fraud.

“Ensuring one citizen, one vote is a serious way to preserve the rights of all voting Americans, and that is the intent of this bill,” he says.

Opponents point out that there are very few cases of voter fraud on record in Maine and say requiring a photo ID could pose a hardship for voters, particularly those in rural areas who don’t have a driver's license.

Others argue that the photo ID measure is unnecessary, as proof of identity is already required for voter registration.

“There isn’t any evidence that shows that these ID’s, particularly in Maine, are needed at that point of actually casting a vote because the process has already confirmed identity, confirmed residency,” says Maine Attorney General Aaron Frey.

Journalist Mal Leary spearheads Maine Public's news coverage of politics and government and is based at the State House.