AUGUSTA, Maine — Wednesday’s Republican presidential debate is a reminder that the 2024 election is creeping up on voters in Maine and all through the nation.
For the primary time, Maine may have semi-open primaries for presidential, congressional and state legislative elections, which means unenrolled voters may have the choice of selecting to vote within the Republican or Democratic primaries subsequent yr.
Right here’s a rundown on how the change will work.
How did this open major change come about?
The Maine Legislature handed a invoice in 2022 to arrange the semi-open major system beginning in 2024. The hassle had bipartisan assist as effectively backing from electoral reform teams such because the League of Ladies Voters.
What precisely is a semi-open major?
The brand new system permits unenrolled voters to take part in celebration primaries with out formally enrolling as a Democrat, Republican, Libertarian or Inexperienced Unbiased, that are the 4 official events in Maine proper now.
Earlier than lawmakers authorised the change, unenrolled Maine voters may vote in primaries by enrolling in a celebration on Election Day. In the event that they wished to change again to being unenrolled, they needed to wait not less than three months to depart their new celebration.
Voters enrolled in a celebration have to make use of that celebration’s poll and select from its slate of candidates. That’s the distinction between Maine’s semi-open major system and the really open primaries in a number of different states that permit voters to cross over and vote for any candidate, no matter their celebration registration.
The celebration poll requested by a voter shall be public report, and the laws creating the semi-open major system aimed to stop voters from unenrolling from a significant celebration so as to vote in a distinct celebration’s major. That’s as a result of it was much like the prevailing regulation prohibiting voters who change celebration registration inside 15 days of a major from voting in that election.
Greater than two dozen states have some type of open or semi-open primaries, with six different states — together with neighboring New Hampshire — having comparable guidelines to Maine’s new system, in keeping with the Nationwide Convention of State Legislatures.
What number of unenrolled voters does Maine have?
The change to a semi-open major system has significance in Maine, as practically three in 10 voters are unenrolled.
The most recent out there information from the Maine secretary of state’s workplace is from final November and lists practically 266,000 unenrolled voters out of 929,000 complete registered voters within the state, with 345,000 Democrats and 280,000 Republicans. The Maine Inexperienced Unbiased Get together counted fewer than 37,000 voters, and the Libertarian Get together had simply 1,200 voters, per the info.
When are Maine’s 2024 presidential major and state major elections?
Maine’s presidential major is scheduled for March 5, 2024, also referred to as “Tremendous Tuesday,” with greater than a dozen states additionally holding primaries that day.
The first for different federal, state and county workplaces in Maine is about for June 11, 2024, and the 2024 basic election will happen Nov. 5.
What’s the take care of No Labels?
No Labels, a centrist advocacy group that’s attempting to morph right into a political celebration, isn’t formally acknowledged in Maine but however is searching for 2024 poll entry right here and in different states.
Its exercise right here has been controversial. Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows, a Democrat, despatched a cease-and-desist letter to the group in Could after receiving complaints that individuals who assumed they’d merely signed a petition have been truly enrolled in No Labels.
Bellows’ workplace additionally mailed notices to the 6,000 or so new No Labels members right here to make sure they meant to hitch the celebration. That would prohibit them from collaborating in Maine’s 2024 Republican and Democratic primaries, as a result of they’re solely open to the members of every celebration and the aforementioned unenrolled voters.