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September 13, 2011

Poll: Majority support repealing same-day registration

By Rebekah Metzler rmetzler@mainetoday.com
MaineToday Media State House Writer

AUGUSTA – A new poll released by the Maine Heritage Policy Center shows a narrow majority of Mainers support the new Republican-passed law that eliminates same-day voter registration. The law is the subject of a people’s veto and will be on this November’s ballot.

The automated poll, which surveyed 500 likely Maine voters on Sept. 7, showed 53 percent of respondents favor the elimination of same-day registration and 47 percent oppose it.

Among those who identified themselves as “moderate,” the issue was nearly evenly split, with 50 percent of those respondents favoring repeal of same-day voter registration and 49 percent opposing the repeal. About 72 percent of self-identified “conservatives” support repeal of same-day registration, while 71 percent of “liberals” oppose it’s repeal.

Conducted by Pulse Opinion Research using polling methodology and procedures licensed from Rasmussen Reports, the survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percent.

Supporters of the veto effort, who hope to maintain the 38-year-old law allowing Election Day registration, have scheduled a State House press conference on Thursday to kick off their campaign. They collected more than 70,000 signatures from Maine voters in about a month to put the issue up for referendum.

Members of the Protect Maine Votes coalition or “Yes on 1” group will discuss key campaign messages and themes, according to a press release.

David Farmer, the group's spokesman, dismissed the poll results as propaganda.

"This is straight out of the policy center’s playbook," he said. "If you look back at 2009, late in the election cycle they touted a poll that they said showed TABOR up. Come Election Day, it lost by over 100,000 votes. This isn’t legitimate research trying to determine what voters think, this is an effort to persuade voters."

TABOR refers to a recent referendum on a tax-capping initiative known as the Taxpayers Bill of Rights, an effort backed by MHPC.

The question that will appear atop the fall ballot reads: “Do you want to reject the section of Chapter 399 of the Public Laws of 2011 that requires new voters to register to vote at least two business days prior to an election?”

Those who support the new law eliminating same-day registration say giving clerks more time to scrutinize registrations will help prevent voter fraud. Those who oppose it say will disenfranchise voters, particularly the young, elderly and disabled.

According to the poll, 56 percent of Mainers support requiring valid photo identification at the polls versus 41 percent who oppose such a requirement, with 3 percent unsure.

When asked if election fraud is currently a problem in Maine, 52 percent disagree compared with 41 percent who agree.

About 55 percent of respondents said protecting against voter fraud was more important to them than increasing voter turnout versus 36 percent who said the opposite was true and 9 percent who were unsure.

This story has been updated from the original post.

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