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House Approves Bipartisan Bill To Allow Open Party Primaries

Robert F. Bukaty
AP Images

Maine is one step closer to allowing independents to vote in party primaries without having to register with that political party.

The 92-52 vote in the Maine House Wednesday to nudge open party primary elections was among just a few bipartisan outcomes this session and follows Tuesday's 27-7 vote in the Senate.

This marks a departure from previous efforts to pass open or semi-open primary bills, as the two major political parties have long held that only registered Democrats and Republicans should choose their respective party's nominees.

The bill's sponsor, Democratic Sen. Chloe Maxmin, of Nobleboro, has argued that opening up primary elections could bring new voters to the political parties.

Under current law, independents can vote in a party primary if they enroll in that party for at least three months.

The bill could soon land on the desk of Democratic Gov. Janet Mills following additional votes.