FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, May 12, 2023
Contact: Emily Cook
Secretary of State informing voters of new party enrollment of which they may not be aware
AUGUSTA — Secretary of State Shenna Bellows announced Friday that the Department of the Secretary of State’s Bureau of Corporations, Elections and Commissions is reaching out to Maine voters who may be unaware that they have enrolled in the No Labels Party, which is seeking party status in Maine.
The state’s Division of Elections has become aware of numerous complaints from Maine voters who were surprised to find out that they had been enrolled in the No Labels Party. Voters expressed to election officials that they were told they were signing a petition in support of adding this new party and had not realized they were enrolling in a new party.
“Voters have the freedom to associate with the political party of their choice, or no party at all,” said Secretary Bellows. “We were concerned after hearing reports of dozens of voters alleging they were unaware they had been enrolled in the No Labels Party and are working to ensure every voter understands their rights.”
To qualify for ballot access for the 2024 primaries, new parties must enroll 5,000 voters by Jan. 2, 2024. No petitions are involved in meeting that 5,000 voter threshold, only voter registration forms.
The Department sent voters currently listed as being enrolled in the No Labels Party a letter this week informing them of their enrollment status. Voters wishing to remain enrolled in the No Labels Party do not need to do anything. Voters wishing to change their enrollment status may do so by filling out a voter registration card, which they can obtain by calling or visiting their municipal clerk or at l. Completed and signed applications must be submitted to a voter’s municipal clerk office. There is a three-month waiting period from when a voter is enrolled in a party, including the No Labels Party, before any enrollment change can become effective.www.maine.gov/sos/cec/elec/upcoming/index.htm
Voters can expect to receive these letters sometime this week or early next week. A copy of the letter is here.
Under Maine’s semi-open primary laws, which go into effect in 2024, voters who are not enrolled in a party may choose to vote in one party’s primary. Voters enrolled in a party may only vote in that party’s primary. If a voter wishes to vote in a primary for a party other than the one in which they’re enrolled, they need to leave their current party 15 days before they can join a new party, and vote that party’s ballot.
On Thursday the Department contacted the No Labels Party to instruct them that they should not be telling Maine voters that they are signing a “petition” when they are filling out voter registration cards.
Maine statute on new party formation with organization by party enrollment is found here: https://legislature.maine.gov/statutes/21-A/title21-Asec303.html.
Any voters who believe they were misled into changing their enrollment or have other concerns that they wish to share with the Department can do so at 207-626-8400 or SOS.Office@maine.gov.