Maine Dems Say Voter Registration Card Shortage Raises Red Flags about Secretary of State Summers
AUGUSTA - Maine Democrats are questioning Secretary of State Charlie Summers' decision to make changes to voter registration cards in the middle of an election season. Because of the changes, the Secretary of State's office has stopped printing the current voter registration cards, resulting in a statewide shortage and the possibility of no available voter registration cards for more than a month this summer - a time when campaigns and nonprofit organizations are hard at work registering new voters and updating voter information across the state.
"This situation raises serious red flags. Why is Secretary of State Summers making minor changes to voter registration cards in the middle of a campaign season? Why weren't the changes made earlier in the year when campaigns and nonprofits weren't hard at work registering voters across the state? Why didn't they tell anyone about the changes and shortage until they were almost out of cards? Either Summers is once again trying to limit Mainers access to the ballot or we have to seriously question his ability to manage the Secretary of State's office. We should never run out of voter registration cards in the middle of an election season," said Maine Democratic Party Chair Ben Grant.
The Maine Democratic Party first learned of the registration card shortage late last week after candidates and organizers requested registration cards from the Secretary of State's office and were told they could only have 50 cards because the office only had 200 left and new cards may not be available for a month. Though Maine Democratic Party staff was originally told there were no online document available to register voters in the meantime, the Secretary of States office has now informed us that once the changes are made to the voter registration card, a PDF will be available for organizations to print on their own in order to register individuals until the Secretary of States office gets new copies printed.
This system varies widely from the Secretary of States own Voter Registration Card Distribution Policy which states that, "In advance of each election, Statewide candidates and qualified parties may request up to 2,000 cards per week, up to a total of 10,000 cards...all other candidates, individuals and groups may request up to 1,000 cards per week, up to a total of 5,000 cards."
"This situation demonstrates a broader change going on at the Secretary of State's office. Rather than working as hard as possible to encourage Mainers to vote and be part of the process, Charlie Summers is now placing the burden on the individuals and organizations by adding an extra step and extra expenses to the registration process in the midst of a presidential election season. A lot of nonprofits operate on tight budgets and printing 4,000 or more voter registration cards really adds up," Grant said. "At the Maine Democratic Party we don't care whether it's Republicans, Democrats, or Independents that are registering to vote, we just want to make sure everyone has access to the ballot - clearly Secretary of State Summers doesn't share that value."