Maine must preserve democracy during this pandemic

Governor Janet Mills

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Now is the time for Maine to prepare, including planning to send absentee ballots to every voter and making sure those who vote in-person are safe.

To: Governor Janet Mills
From: [Your Name]

Thank you for the leadership you’ve shown in working to keep the July primary safe and accessible for voters. We are writing to ask that you take additional steps to ensure every eligible voter can safely participate in this election.

With the tremendous challenge that coronavirus has brought to everyone in Maine, it is more important than ever that Mainers are able to safely participate in our upcoming elections. As we have seen in Wisconsin, when we fail to adapt our elections for this current crisis voters are forced to choose between their health and their vote. We cannot allow this to happen in Maine, and we are writing to ask that you act immediately to ensure a safe and accessible July primary.

As governor, you have the authority to make changes to the July primary to protect Maine voters and ensure every eligible voter is able to participate in our democracy. Specifically, we are asking you to issue an executive order to commit to:

Providing online options to assist voter registration. It is vitally important that those eligible to register are able to do so without leaving home. Technical changes should be made so that access to a scanner, printer, and postage is not a barrier to becoming a voter.

- Mailing absentee ballots to every registered voter. To maximize the number of participating voters in the July primary, every registered voter should be mailed a ballot in order to be able to safely vote at home.

- Preserving a safe in-person voting option. An in-person voting option is vital for ensuring that those who are unable to vote by mail are not disenfranchised and that same-day voter registration can still be offered. With proper planning, it will be possible to offer in-person voting that complies with health and safety guidelines and allows Mainers to safely cast their ballots.

- Including paid postage for all returnable voter mailings. For this election, eligible voters need to be offered an option to register to vote and cast a ballot without leaving home. Lack of stamps should not prevent this. Committing to providing paid postage will make it easier for voters to truly vote from home.

We are grateful for the leadership you have shown so far on protecting voting during this crisis. The support you’ve expressed publicly for maintaining an in-person voting option demonstrates your commitment to ensuring that Mainers are able to participate in the democratic process.

However, the work to achieve a safe and accessible election is not done, and more immediate action is needed. To maximize safe voter participation in this upcoming election and allow our clerks to prepare to safely administer this election, we are asking that you issue an executive order that confirms that the items above will be in place for the July primary.

Thank you.