AUGUSTA — A group from Michigan that advocates for legal reform and fights voter fraud donated $250,000 to the unsuccessful Maine campaign to uphold a new state law that ended same-day voter registration.

American Justice Partnership of Lansing, Mich., made two donations totaling $250,000 to the No on 1 campaign in the weeks before the election, a review of campaign finance reports shows.

The money wasn’t enough to swing the election. Voters in November supported Question 1, which was a people’s veto of a law that repealed the state’s 38-year policy of allowing voters to register and vote on election day.

The vote was 60-40 in support of the veto.

The American Justice Partnership and other donors spent a total of $346,989 on the campaign, which was substantially less than half of what supporters spent to get the question approved.

The Yes campaign spent $873,435, fueled in part by $318,000 donated by hedge fund billionaire Donald Sussman, husband of U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-1st District.

In previous years, Sussman has supported other Democratic causes, including gay marriage, a tax reform package passed by Democrats, and a new tax on beer, wine and soda designed to provide funding for Dirigo Health. All of those initiatives were defeated.

Dan Pero, president of American Justice Partnership, said his group donated money to the Maine campaign because it believes it’s important to protect elections from fraud. He said during a recent election in Michigan, questions were raised about possible fraud among college students.

“It was an election day free-for-all to give opportunity to students to vote in two places,” he said. “There wasn’t really a safeguard.”

Maine Secretary of State Charlie Summers investigated reports of voter fraud by college students, but found none among the more-than 200 cases he examined. Nevertheless, Summers advocated for the law that repealed same-day registration, saying that clerks in many towns did not have adequate resources to verify new voters on election day.

The campaign finance reports filed by midnight Tuesday also detailed final numbers for the two gambling questions that were defeated.

Supporters of Question 2, which would have allowed new slot parlors at harness racing tracks in Biddeford and Washington County, spent $3.7 million, the reports show. With the exception of about $50,000, all of the money came from developer Ocean Properties Ltd., which wanted to build the project in southern Maine.

The question failed 55-45 percent, with groups in opposition spending a combined $1.3 million. Opposition was almost entirely funded by the state’s one casino, Hollywood Slots in Bangor and its parent company, Penn National Gaming, and by Black Bear Funding, supporters of the Oxford County casino that is under construction.

Supporters of Question 3, which would have allowed a casino in downtown Lewiston, spent $438,000. That question failed 63-37 percent, with the same opposition groups spending an additional $1.3 million.

Susan Cover — 620-7015

[email protected]


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