GOP SENATORS SUPPORT MEASURE TO STYMIE VOTER PARTICIPATION
Voter ID: “unnecessary solution in search of a problem”
AUGUSTA – In a vote of 18 – 17, with Senators Katz and Langley joining the Democrats,
Maine Republican Senators gave initial support for a measure requiring a photo ID in order to vote.
“As we’ve found again and again, voter fraud is not a problem here in Maine or anywhere else in the country. This is an unnecessary solution in search of a problem,” said Democratic State Senator John Patrick of Rumford who serves on the state’s Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee. “Republicans talk about the virtues of small government but a proposal like this actually expands government and puts ‘Big Brother’ smack dab in the middle of our life.”
L.D. 197, “An Act To Strengthen Maine’s Election Laws by Requiring Photographic Identification for the Purpose of Voting,” sponsored entirely by Republican lawmakers including Senators Burns, Collins, Cyrway, Hamper, and Volk would require a photo ID when voting. The bill was voted out of Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee along party lines, with the majority voting the measure down and a minority of Republicans voting for bill to pass.
Senator Patrick noted that during the public hearing, the measure received overwhelming opposition from Maine’s Secretary of State, several town and city clerks, Maine Municipal Association, American Civil Liberties, Maine Women’s Lobby, Equality Maine, League of Women voters, Maine Council on Aging, and the AARP, among others.
During the debate, Republican Senators used Senator Cathy Breen’s senate race that faced scrutiny as the rationale for the voter ID bill. The Senate District 25 race become controversial when the ballots at the recount didn’t match the number of ballots cast on election day. However, after a 7-member legislative committee investigated the matter, it was determined that the error occurred at the recount, not on election day.
Senator Breen negated that justification saying, “The SD 25 election was handled flawlessly. The problem was in the recount.”
She added, “Recounts should not be confused with elections.”
Senator Geoff Gratwick of Bangor cited a Carnegie Knight investigative reporting project, in 2012, they found 10 cases of alleged in-person voter impersonation fraud. Carnegie Knight noted that represents about one in 15 million prospective voters.
The measure now goes to the House for initial votes.