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Maine gets high marks in state of democracy report

Robert F. Bukaty
Maine Public

A new report on the state of democracy in Maine finds the state is generally doing well.

A coalition of groups known as Democracy Maine found that the state leads the nation in voter protections, including same-day registration and no photo ID requirement. And voter turnout is high compared to other states.

But Evan Murray of the League of Women Voters of Maine says even so, it's an area for improvement because roughly a third of the population doesn't vote.

"Those numbers vary across the state with some voting districts very, very high and others lower," he says. "And the ones that are lower tend be places with high poverty rates, where people might face more barriers but really need to be heard."

Murray says there are several proposals in the Legislature that aim to boost participation, including a bill to allow ongoing absentee voting.

"So if somebody is never going to be able to get to the polls in person because of a disability or something along those lines, it will be easier for them," he says. "They won't have to every single year, call in, request, or go online and request their ballot."

Other bills would increase transparency on election spending. Murray says another area of concern is the decline in local news, with 13% of Mainers living in a "news desert," coupled with the rise in pseudo-local news websites.