According to the Maine secretary of state, roughly 280,000 people voted in Maine’s primary election last year. That may sound like a lot but in fact it’s only 27 percent of our registered voters. In a state that prides itself on voter turnout, why is it that only a quarter of voters showed up to make our most important decisions? One big reason is Maine’s closed primary laws.

Regardless of your political affiliation, I think you will agree that politics is becoming increasingly polarized. Gridlock in Augusta has stopped either side from making progress. Politicians are afraid to reach across the aisle lest they alienate their base.

It’s no wonder, then, that more and more voters are identifying as “independent.” Unenrolled voters are now the biggest voting block, surpassing both Democrats and Republicans. Mainers are thinking for themselves instead of blindly following the cookie cutter platforms of the major parties. There’s just one problem — they’re getting turned away at the polls.

When my father Mike showed up to the polls last June, he was told that he couldn’t vote in either the Democratic or Republican primaries. My dad prides himself on being an independent thinker and will gladly vote for the best candidate, rather than the D or R that’s next to their name. But he couldn’t vote in either primary because he’s one of over 400,000 Mainers who are not enrolled in either party.

State legislators are considering a bill that would allow all voters to participate in primary elections. I hope you will join me at the State House in room 437 at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, April 3, for the public hearing on L.D. 211, An Act To Open Maine’s Primaries.

Now’s the time to make your voice heard, especially if you’ve been silenced in the past. For more information, contact [email protected].


Christopher Cayer

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