An Act To Create an Automatic Voter Registration System
Sec. 1. 21-A MRSA §122-A, as enacted by PL 2005, c. 364, §4, is amended to read:
§ 122-A. Alternative registration procedure for participants in Address Confidentiality Program
Notwithstanding sections 122 and 152 and subchapter 9, a person who is certified by the Secretary of State as a program participant in the Address Confidentiality Program pursuant to Title 5, section 90-B may register to vote using the designated address and voter code assigned to that person pursuant to rules adopted to implement the program. To register to vote, a voter must present the registrar with that voter's authorization card assigned to the voter pursuant to rules adopted by the Secretary of State showing that voter's name, voter code, designated address and certification expiration date. The registrar may contact the Address Confidentiality Program administrator in the Secretary of State's office to determine the voter's eligibility to register in the municipality and to verify the electoral district in which the voter is voting for purposes of issuing an absentee ballot to the voter pursuant to section 753-C. All registration records and pending voter registration records, as defined in section 231, subsection 1, paragraph B, for such voters must be designated as confidential and kept sealed in the registrar's office. The name of any voter certified as a program participant in the Address Confidentiality Program may not be placed on any voter list that is available for public inspection or copying.
Sec. 2. 21-A MRSA §129, first ¶, as amended by PL 2011, c. 399, §11, is further amended to read:
When Notwithstanding subchapter 9, when a voter's name is changed by marriage or other process of law , or when the voter moves within a municipality, the following provisions apply.
Sec. 3. 21-A MRSA §152, sub-§1, as amended by PL 2015, c. 447, §§4 and 5, is further amended to read:
(1) First name and last name;
(2) First initial, middle name and last name; or
(3) First name, middle name or middle initial and last name;
Sec. 4. 21-A MRSA §155, first ¶, as amended by PL 2011, c. 342, §8, is further amended to read:
The registrar shall conditionally accept the registration and enrollment of any person who is 17 16 years of age and who is otherwise qualified to be a voter. The conditional registration automatically becomes effective on the person's 18th birthday and the registrant then is eligible to vote.
Sec. 5. 21-A MRSA §195, as amended by PL 2009, c. 564, §6, is repealed and the following enacted in its place:
§ 195. Report
The Secretary of State shall report annually by January 15th to the joint standing committee of the Legislature having jurisdiction over voter registration matters on the administration of the central voter registration system and the automatic voter registration system established pursuant to subchapter 9.
As used in this subsection, "pending voter registration record" and "source agency" have the same meanings as in subchapter 9.
Sec. 6. 21-A MRSA c. 3, sub-c. 9 is enacted to read:
AUTOMATIC VOTER REGISTRATION
§ 231. Registration of voters by source agencies
An agency designated as a source agency pursuant to this subsection shall follow the same procedures for automatic voter registration as followed by the bureau and is subject to the requirements of this section, including preimplementation audit and risk assessment and ongoing audits and accuracy checks.
§ 232. Collection, maintenance and use of data
The collection, maintenance and use of data for voter registration under this subchapter are governed by this section.
An election official shall provide information to the individual stating that, if the individual is eligible and not registered to vote, the information provided by the individual will be used to register the individual to vote, making some of that individual's information accessible to entities other than the State or the election official. The election official shall provide a process by which the individual may:
Any communication must comply with the language requirements of Section 203 of the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965, 52 United States Code, Section 10503.
If an individual identified under this subsection as unregistered but eligible to vote does not decline to be registered as a voter within 21 calendar days after the election official issues the notification, the individual's pending voter registration record submitted under this subsection must be considered a completed registration and the individual must be registered to vote and entered into the central voting system.
§ 233. Voluntary exclusion from voter list
§ 234. Privacy and security standards
The Secretary of State periodically shall review privacy and security measures applied to the central voter registration system and the voter registration system established in the subchapter, including pending voter registration records and, as provided in this section, implement standards and procedures to further safeguard the confidentiality, integrity and security of the information collected, maintained, received, transmitted or used pursuant to this subchapter, referred to in this section as "the data."
§ 235. Protection against liability of individuals on basis of information transferred; false information
§ 236. Protections against misuse of information
§ 237. Nondiscrimination
A person acting under color of law may not discriminate against an individual on the basis of the individual's absence from the central voter registration system, the information supplied by the individual for voter registration purposes at a source agency or the individual's declining to supply such information, except as required to administer elections or enforce the laws against election crimes.
§ 238. Rules
The Secretary of State may adopt rules to implement this subchapter. Rules adopted pursuant to this section are major substantive rules as defined in Title 5, chapter 375, subchapter 2-A.
§ 239. Rule of construction
Sec. 7. Effective date; rules; report. Those sections of this Act that amend the Maine Revised Statutes, Title 21-A, section 122-A, section 129, first paragraph and section 152, subsection 1 and that enact Title 21-A, section 195 and chapter 3, subchapter 9 take effect January 1, 2022, except that the Secretary of State shall adopt major substantive rules in accordance with Title 5, chapter 375, subchapter 2-A to implement by January 1, 2022 the automatic voter registration system enacted in Title 21-A, chapter 3, subchapter 9 and present those rules for approval to the Second Regular Session of the 129th Legislature by January 15, 2020; at the same time, the Secretary of State may present suggested necessary legislation for the proper implementation of the automatic voter registration system. The Joint Standing Committee on Veterans and Legal Affairs may report out legislation to the Second Regular Session of the 129th Legislature based on the recommendations of the Secretary of State.
This bill establishes, beginning January 1, 2022, a method of automatically registering eligible individuals to vote. The Department of the Secretary of State, Bureau of Motor Vehicles, when receiving any documentation from an individual doing business with the bureau, including applying for or renewing a driver's license or nondriver identification card, is required to scan and electronically store the documentation provided by the individual. If the documentation provides proof of eligibility to vote, including citizenship, age and residency, that individual is added to the central voter registration system and relevant information is transmitted to election officials unless the individual, at the time of the collection of the documentation, chooses not to be registered to vote, which the Secretary of State is required to ensure that an individual is given the opportunity to do. An application or document used to collect information that may be used to register an individual must contain a notice that the individual's information may be used to register that individual to vote, meaning that the information would be available by persons other than the State or election officials. An election official must provide the same notice to an individual upon receipt of the registration record from the Bureau of Motor Vehicles and also must inform the individual of the ability to choose not to be registered to vote and to pick a party affiliation. If the individual fails to respond within 21 days, the individual is considered a registered voter if that individual meets the qualifications to be registered as a voter.
The Secretary of State and the Governor are allowed to designate other state agencies and departments and public and private entities, such as colleges and municipal clerk offices, as so-called source agencies that are allowed to submit registration information to the bureau for inclusion in the central voter registration system, but only if those agencies, as part of their normal course of business, collect information that provides proof of eligibility to vote, including an entity that, as of January 1, 2022, is designated under the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 as a voter registration agency that collects information that provides proof of voter eligibility. A source agency is required to comply with the same restrictions regarding sharing and use of documentation as the bureau.
Information from a source agency may also be used to update an individual's voter registration.
This bill exempts from liability an individual who is not qualified to be a registered voter but who becomes a registered voter by operation of the automatic registration, as long as that individual has not knowingly or willfully provided false information.
This bill also requires the Secretary of State to adopt major substantive rules to implement the new automatic voter registration system and submit those rules, along with any proposed legislation necessary for the proper implementation of the new system, to the Second Regular Session of the 129th Legislature.
Finally, this bill lowers the age at which a person may submit a conditional registration to vote and enrollment in a political party from 17 years of age to 16 years of age.