Officials say nearly 7,000 Maine voters may have inadvertently registered for new No Labels party
Maine's top election official is notifying voters who recently signed documents for the group No Labels that they have registered with a new political party.
No Labels has been engaged in a multistate effort to gain ballot access to run a bipartisan "unity ticket" in next year's presidential election.
The group has not named candidates, but the idea is to run a Republican and Democrat for president and vice president to appeal to voters disenchanted with the nominees of the two major political parties, potentially President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump.
But its efforts have drawn criticism, including from Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows, who recently warned the group over what she says are misleading tactics, where voters might believe they're signing a petition supporting the concept when they're actually registering as a member of a new No Labels party.
Bellows announced Friday that her office is notifying the nearly 7,000 voters who took that step.
"Many voters may have in fact have very gladly and willingly joined the No Labels party, and if they were in fact doing so, we wanted them to know that they are enrolled and that they don't need to take any action," she said. "But if they feel that they were misled, or were confused in any way, they have the option to change back or become unenrolled."
In Maine, changing party affiliation is done by filling out a new voter registration card with a municipal clerk.
No Labels has said that it has been acting on guidance from state election officials and that it has been made clear to voters that they're joining the party when they sign up.
The dust-up in Maine is another example of how No Labels has rankled Republicans and Democrats. The latter worry that the group's prospective ticket could be a spoiler in next year's election and potentially benefit Trump in a rematch with Biden.
No Labels recently qualified as a political party in Oregon and Arizona. In Arizona Democrats are challenging the designation in court because the group does not disclose its donors.
Bellows says the letters sent by her office to newly registered voters were designed to ensure that voters who were either misled or confused when approached by a No Labels canvasser know that they can change their party affiliation back to what it once was, or become an unenrolled voter. In Maine, voters who change party affiliation have to wait three months after re-registering with a municipal clerk before the change takes effect.