Maine (WMTW) – Election Day will once again test Maine’s reputation for clean elections.
Already, more than a quarter of Maine’s active voters have requested absentee ballots, surpassing the total for the last 2018 midterm and gubernatorial elections.
More than 500 municipalities hold elections, but since 2007, there is a central database of registered voters.
“On Election Day, we are on high alert at the state level for potential problems,” Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows said in an interview with our media partner, WMTW.
The whistleblower, who oversees Maine elections and championed new laws to protect election workers and equipment, says there are virtually no proven cases of voter fraud.
For example, in 2020, out of 828,305 votes cast and counted, there were only two documented cases of illegal voting, both by students at the University of Maine-Orono. One forged a signature to vote for someone else. Another voted twice in different polling stations.
“So if you vote twice in Maine, we’re going to catch you, and you’re going to be prosecuted,” Bellows said.
Bellows and most Democrats oppose proposals that require government-issued photo identification to vote, citing inconvenience to voters and the cost of producing state ID for people who don’t already have one.
When Bellows testified against the idea last year, he said in the state legislature, 162,266 registered Maine voters could not be matched with a Maine driver’s license or state ID.
Former Gov. Paul LePage, who is seeking his old job, and other Republicans saw that as a weakness.
LePage told a Republican fundraiser in April, “163,000 people voted here in Maine for president in 2020. None of them had any ID.”
But Bellows told me there was nothing to worry about.
Bellows said, “Every Mainer who votes has to show proof of identity and proof of residency at the time of registration. But we have many seniors, like my mother, who have lived in the same town for decades and were registered to vote long before 2007. So “Just because a record doesn’t have a driver’s license number or an ID number doesn’t mean it’s a fake record.”
To produce an ID for $3.46, it would cost the state $561,440 to issue cards to those 162,266 people.
The state elections division conducts voter registration maintenance every year, most recently in mid-October.
Of the 1,124,897 registered voters, 904,674 were active and 220,223 were inactive, meaning they did not vote in the last two federal elections, 2020 and 2018.
If they miss the next two, 2022 and 2024, their registrations will be cancelled.
Maine is one of 33 states that participates with the Electronic Record Information Center, which checks for duplicate records in other states.
LePage said he will rely on this year’s results.
“Whoever wins, wins, and I’ve always said that,” LePage told reporters Oct. 7 in Lewiston. “Instead of asking if I will accept the election results. I will.”
As for Bruce Poliquin, Republican candidate for Maine’s 2nd Congressional District, at a Nov. 2 campaign rally with LePage near Bangor, I asked him if he, too, will accept this year’s results regardless?
“We’re here to talk about heating oil,” Poliquin said, referring to the focus of the news conference at Dysart’s truck stop.
Poliquin spoke for another 90 seconds, but did not answer the question.
No matter how many absentee ballots are received, the Secretary of State expects full results to be announced on election night.
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