Bellows introduces bill for election transparency

AUGUSTA — Sen. Shenna Bellows, D-Manchester, introduced a bill Tuesday to provide transparency around Maine’s elections. The bill received a public hearing in the Legislature’s Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee.

Maine has high voter participation — 72.6 percent in the 2016 election — but the processes that occur in the background to make elections happen are not always well understood by voters, said a news release from the Maine Legislature Democratic Office. That lack of understanding can foster distrust or make voters susceptible to believing misleading information about elections, the release said.

Bellows’ bill, L.D. 1284. provides new resources to educate voters about the election system in Maine, as well as new mechanisms for voter complaint resolution and post-election audits to guarantee — and publicize — the integrity of Maine’s electoral process.

“At its heart, this bill is about promoting ongoing election integrity and public confidence in our elections,” said Bellows. “Maine elections are well run. This bill is about what we can do in the future to prevent problems before they occur.”
Polly Ward, a volunteer member of the League of Women Voter’s Advocacy Committee, spoke in favor of the bill.

“We have enjoyed a generations-long record of professional, nonpartisan, voter-friendly administration of elections at both the state and municipal level,” said Ward. “We support the provisions of this bill as an investment in the future to ensure the continuation of that legacy, countering cynicism and ensuring that the citizens of Maine have access to sufficient information to be confident in the integrity of our election process.”

The bill faces further action in the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee and votes in the House and Senate.