AUGUSTA – Democrats serving on the Maine Legislature’s Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee united to vote against two proposals, L.D. 186, a bill sponsored by Rep. Billy Bob Faulkingham (R – Winter Harbor), and L.D. 1372 sponsored by Rep. Nathan Wadsworth (R – Hiram), that would amend Maine’s Constitution to forbid non-citizens from being allowed to vote in any Maine election.
Since last year, Portland Mayor Ethan Strimling has been pushing to allow non-citizens to vote in his city. Strimling has been emboldened by an opinion issued by Janet Mills, serving as Attorney General at the time, that said nothing in the Maine Constitution would forbid non-citizens from being allowed to vote, as Strimling wishes them to do.
After heated debate, in which Democrats, according to the Lewiston Sun Journal, opposed the bill saying it was a not needed due to a law they say forbids non-citizens from voting, the committee voted 7-5 against the proposals, along party lines, with one member, Sen. Erin Herbig (D – Waldo) not present for the votes.
“This isn’t a non-issue, because Ethan Strimling among others are currently pushing this in our state. Our very own governor Janet Mills gave her opinion that non-citizens are NOT barred from voting in our State Constitution. It is time for the legislature to listen to the people and put this Constitutional Amendment up for a statewide vote!” said Rep. Faulkingham, sponsor of L.D. 186, on Facebook.
of the proposals would like additional protections of the franchise of U.S.
Citizens to vote through a constitutional amendment, which is much more
difficult to change than state law.
to the Maine Constitution requires a 2/3 vote of approval for the amendment by
both the Maine House and Senate, followed by approval in a statewide referendum.
A change in state law, which could be passed to reverse the existing law Democrats say forbids non-citizen from voting, could be accomplished with a simple majority vote of the Maine House and Senate, followed by the sitting Governor signing the bill or allowing it to become law without their signature.
The ACLU of Maine and the Maine Municipal Association testified in opposition to both proposals to ban non-citizen voting at public hearings held by the committee. Dozens of Maine citizens testified in support of the bills. Rep. Faulkingham, Rep. Wadsworth and Senator Stacey Guerin (R – Penobscot) also testified in support.
Both proposals, because Republicans on the committee voted in support, will still have a chance to be considered by the full Maine House and Senate. They will be reported out in what is called a “divided report” for those votes.
Voting against the bills were:
Rep. John Schneck (D – Bangor) Rep. Kent Ackley (U – Monmouth) Rep. Janice Cooper (D – Yarmouth) Rep. Craig Hickman (D – Winthrop) Rep. Brian Hubbell (D – Bar Harbor) Rep. Joyce “Jay” McCreight (D – Harpswell) Senator Louis Luchini (D – Hancock)
Voting in favor of the bills were:
Senator Scott Cyrway (R – Kennebec) Rep. John Andrews (R – Paris) Rep. Josanne Dolloff (R – Rumford) Rep. Sheldon Hanington (R – Lincoln) Rep. Scott Strom (R – Pittsfield)
Senator Erin Herbig (D – Waldo) had not yet voted as of the time of this report