It's time to open Maine's primaries!

Open Primaries Maine is on a mission to improve voter access and increase voter participation by advocating for opening Maine’s primary elections to unenrolled voters.

The 130th Maine Legislature is considering LD 231, "An Act To Establish Open Primaries." LD 231 would permit unenrolled voters to cast one ballot in the primary of their choice. Republicans would not be able vote in Democratic primaries and Democrats would not be able vote in Republican primaries. Click here to read the bill. Open Primaries Maine is advocating for passage of this legislation, and we invite supporters to contact their legislators in support of this reform to help us fix a broken political system.

 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Q: How would LD 231 change Maine’s primary elections?

A: LD 231 would allow semi-open primaries, meaning unenrolled voters would be permitted to cast one ballot in the primary of their choice. Republicans would not be able to vote in Democratic primaries and Democrats would not be able to vote in Republican primaries.

Q: Which legislators are sponsoring LD 231? 

A: LD 231 is a bipartisan bill, sponsored by Senator Chloe Maxmin (D-Lincoln). Co-sponsors include Sen. Matt Pouliot (R-Augusta), Rep. David McCrea (D-Fort Fairfield), Rep. Jeffrey Evangelos (I-Friendship), Rep. Bill Pluecker (I-Warren), Rep. Walter Riseman (I-Harrison), Rep. Nicole Grohoski (D-Ellsworth), Rep. Allison Hepler (D-Woolwich), and Rep. Sophie Warren (I-Scarborough). Dozens of additional lawmakers have already expressed their support.

Q: Why are semi-open primaries important?

80% of Maine voters support semi-open primaries and there are several reasons to do so: 

  • Maine has a tradition of civic participation and electoral inclusion. We should be proud of that, but we can also do better. 
  • It is more democratic to allow all eligible voters to participate in all elections, including primaries, especially since nearly 70% of elections are determined in the primary. 
  • Primary elections are funded by taxpayers. Unenrolled voters help to pay for primary elections, but they are not currently permitted to participate.

Q: Who are unenrolled voters? 

A: Commonly referred to as “independents,” unenrolled voters are registered voters who are not registered in any political party. Nationally, voters who identify as independent include 44% of active duty service members, 44% of millennials, 42% of Gen Z voters, 27% of Black voters, and 37% of Latinx voters. 

Q: How many Maine voters are unenrolled? 

A: 32% of Maine voters are unenrolled, but that percentage will likely increase now that Automatic Voter Registration (AVR) is being implemented. With AVR, eligible Mainers who are not already registered to vote will be automatically registered when they receive or renew their drivers' licenses at the Bureau of Motor Vehicles or when they apply for or renew their eligibility for MaineCare. One only needs to look at the experience of Oregon to understand why this is relevant: From 2016 when AVR was enacted to December 2019, 80% of Oregon voters registered via AVR were registered as unenrolled voters. 

Q: Who pays for primary elections?

A: Maine taxpayers, including unenrolled voters, pay for primary elections. 

Q: Do Maine voters support opening Maine’s primaries?

A: Yes. Polling shows that 80% of Maine voters support open primaries.

Q: Do other states have open primaries?

A: Yes. Maine is one of only a handful of states with closed, members-only, primaries. 

Q: How can people help to open Maine’s primary elections?

A: You can write a letter to the editor, ask friends and neighbors to join you in supporting, lobby your legislators, submit testimony ahead of the public hearing, and/or make a financial contribution.

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