Maine had a successful legislative session in the voting rights sphere. Thanks to Democrats gaining control of the Maine legislature and governorship in 2018, Maine became the 16th state to establish automatic voter registration (LD 1463). Every Republican legislator voted against automatic voter registration. Automatic voter registration increases voter registration and makes voting more accessible.

Maine also became the first state in the country to pass ranked choice voting for presidential elections (LD 1663) — an approach some voting rights advocates have argued is more democratic than current voting practices.

Unfortunately, a number of pro-voter policies were not able to pass this session. Democratic legislators introduced a number of measures that would enhance voting rights, including legislation to establish early in-person voting (LD 293), and expand early voting, absentee voting, and vote-by-mail (LD 1631LD 272). A bipartisan bill to expand online voter registration also failed (LD 1570).

Luckily, Maine Republicans were unable to pass a restrictive voter ID law (LD 322) in Maine. Maine Republicans also failed to pass laws (LD 186LD 1372) that would exclude non-citizens from voting in local elections. There have been some initiatives in Portland, Maine to allow non-citizens to vote in local elections. These noncitizen voting laws, which have popped up across the country, are being pushed by secret Republican donors and Trump allies. Hidden money should not affect the will of Maine voters.

On that note, Maine was able to pass legislation (LD 54) to limit the influence of lobbyists in the state. Getting corporate money out of politics is a win for democracy.

Finally, while eligible individuals who are incarcerated are only allowed to vote in Maine and Vermont — a critical measure to protect the sanctity of the right to vote — few inmates actually exercise their right to vote. Maine and Vermont can do more in the future to ensure that voters who are incarcerated are aware of and able to exercise their right to vote.