Working for Democracy

By now I suspect you’ve heard or read about the effort being launched for a people’s veto of the repeal of election day registration.  You’ll be hearing much more about this and I’m not going to go on endlessly about what a critical issue this is…but it is!!

To me, this represents why I have been a lifelong Democrat.  What drew me to the Democratic Party 50 years ago (…yes, I started young…) was that the Democrats were and still are the party of the people.  Nothing is more representative of this than the current people’s veto effort.  Voting is the most fundamental right and obligation of a citizen of a democracy.  Next week, I will have been a resident of Maine for 30 years, and one of the things that I’ve been most proud of is the regular high turnout in elections.  This is due, in no small part, to the fact that we haven’t created barriers to registration since the enactment of same-day registration 38 years ago.  Repeal of this NOT a response to a problem.  There have only been two identified instances of voter fraud during the duration of same-day registration.  While we have been told about how the town clerks are just overwhelmed with same day registrants, the association of town clerks actually opposed the appeal and clerks have expressed great concerns about the negative and potentially angry reactions of people who will be turned away on election day, denied their right to vote. We’ve heard vile allegations of fraud, completely unfounded and aimed only at creating a false anger about the issue.  The truth is that this is part of a national effort aimed at disenfranchising voters and suppressing turnout.  The most vulnerable among us, low income, elderly and disabled individuals will be most affected by this appeal.  Additionally, young people, who tend to be more mobile and move more frequently, will find themselves denied the right to vote in disproportionate numbers.

For all of these reasons, and as a statement of our principles, we will be participating in and working to achieve success with the people’s veto.  None of us should have any illusions.  While the issues are clear and there are no principled or rational reasons to oppose this, it is going to be a difficult hill to climb and require a great deal of hard work for us all.  The first step in this process is going to be getting on the ballot.  In order to accomplish this, the coalition of organizations supporting the people’s veto is going to have to collect tens of thousands of signatures in a relatively truncated time frame.  This is going to be a major, critical activity for us.  We’re going to need the help of as many of you as can give even a little bit of time to obtain signatures on petitions.  The first steps of the campaign are now being organized and we’ll be in touch shortly to let you know where and how you can volunteer and when training will be provided.

It is impossible for me to overstate the importance of this.  In the soul-searching that went on after the 2010 elections, there was much said and written about the Democratic Party’s mission, values and how we can better act on and communicate them.  THIS IS IT!!!  This is where we take our stand in support of ALL the people of Maine and the values on which our country and state are built!!!  We will need and be counting on your help in this effort.

We’ll be in touch shortly with next steps and to let you know how you can contribute to this critical effort.  Please, let me know if you have any questions.  We look forward to working with you and to success in keeping Maine a model of democracy.
Reid Scher, Chairperson