AUGUSTA — The semi-open primaries bill, LD 231, sponsored by Senator Chloe Maxmin, D-Lincoln, received a majority ought to pass as amended recommendation Friday out of the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee, according to a news release.
Under current Maine law, the 32% of Maine voters who are unenrolled — often referred to as independent — are prohibited from participating in taxpayer funded primary elections.
LD 231 would allow semi-open primaries, meaning these 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.
Maine is one of just 14 states with completely closed primaries, and 80% of Maine voters support semi-open primaries.
“I am delighted that a majority of my colleagues on the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee join me in valuing the voices of our unenrolled neighbors and friends,” said Sen. Maxmin. “Maine’s current closed primary system is misaligned with our shared values of civic participation and inclusive electoral policies. Fortunately, we are now one step closer to remedying this outdated system by passing L.D. 231.”
“I’m so grateful to the committee for taking this step forward into a more democratic future,” she continued. “Maine has a strong political independent streak that we’re all proud of, but a side effect of that is hundreds of thousands of unenrolled voters have been excluded from the critical primary process. Many races are all but decided in the primary, and independent voters deserve a voice, especially since they pay for these elections with their tax dollars. This bill will make sure all Maine voters have their voices heard.”