Maine Lawmaker Proposes Online Voting Bill

Rep. Maureen Terry, D-Gorham, says her proposed bill would OK the use of an internet-based platform for voters to submit ballots

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A Maine state representative wants colleagues to consider allowing online voting during future elections across the state.

As Maine's legislature gets ready to begin a new session, Rep. Maureen Terry, D-Gorham, said she's crafted a bill that would OK the use of an internet-based platform for voters to submit ballots.

In addition to increasing overall voter participation, Terry said the law could be an alternative for voters worried about health-risks from voting in-person during a pandemic or during an event like a snowstorm.

"I think it would give them a sense of security," she explained Tuesday.

On the issues of election integrity and preventing hacks, Terry believes those are both very real concerns she is hopeful could be addressed.

"I'm willing to listen to hear what other people's concerns are and maybe I'm missing something," she said. "I don't think that's the case, I think we can do this safely."

Asked about the idea of online voting, Shenna Bellows, Maine's Secretary of State, whose office oversees election, said she was open to dialogue about online voting with people like Terry.

However, Bellows also pointed out "the devil is in the details," as to how an online program might be set up prevent hacks or misuse and said a number of questions about the ability of the state to set up internet voting would need to be answered.

"We need to be thoughtful about what currently exists, what our resources are and what the implications are for security and integrity of our elections," Bellows said.

As for Maine Republicans, the executive director of Maine GOP Jason Savage said online voting "sounds like a major security risk for no benefit," and thought the idea would be a non-starter with conservatives overall.

"I think democrats need to leave our state's election system alone, our system works," Savage said.

Even if Maine lawmakers do not decide on online voting in the near-term, a different part of Maine's election process could become digital more quickly.

Bellows said she is "passionate" about Maine developing an online voter registration system similar to ones in other states, which she believes could push Maine's eligible voter turnout past the record 75.61% turnout of Maine's voting age population and the 78% turnout of Maine's registered voters.

"Colorado reached 90% of voter participation through a package of reforms, they do have online voter registration," Bellows said.

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