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Bellows: New voter registration system should be ready for 2024 elections

Maine Primary
Charles Krupa
Residents cast their vote at a polling station at the Kennebunk Town Hall in Kennebunk, Maine, Tuesday, June 12, 2018.

Maine will replace its 15-year-old central voter registration system in the coming year.

The state finalized a new contract with a vendor last week, and Secretary of State Shenna Bellows says the new system should be up and running in time for the 2024 elections.

"That will have some features that Maine hasn't had before, like online voter registration, a voter look-up portal to be able to verify your registration is accurate," she said Tuesday during an interview on Maine Calling.

The new system will also facilitate absentee and in-person voting, and it will track absentee ballot requests and voter participation, Bellows' office said.

New England-based Stonewall Solutions won the bid for the contract, which is worth about $1.8 million.

Federal funds will partly pay for the project, Bellows said. Maine will receive $1 million from the most recent federal budget for election technology upgrades.

The new voter registration platform will be customized to fit Maine's election laws. Stonewall Solutions has implemented similar voter registration systems in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

Beyond online voter registration, Mainers soon may have the ability to schedule an appointment online for service at the Bureau of Motor Vehicles.

"Imagine if you could go online, make an appointment at the BMV, get a text message confirmation just like I do from my dentist, go at the appointed time, be in and out in 15 minutes and go about your business," Bellows said.

The Bureau of Motor Vehicles is testing out such a system now, and Bellows said it should be ready this summer.

She's hopeful the online platform will shorten long lines at BMV, especially at the southern Maine branches.

"We've had some challenges," Bellows said. "Even though the Bangor branch is the busiest, those lines are not quite as bad sometimes. Portland and Kennebunk can, gosh, get really backed up."

The state is also looking into an online lien and title system and other ways to accept more documents electronically, Bellows said.