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Maine might switch to semi-open primary election system

April 27, 2022 GMT

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — Maine might move to a more open style of primary elections.

The Maine Legislature has voted in favor of semi-open primaries, which supporters said would allow unaffiliated voters more voice in elections. About a third of Maine registered voters are unenrolled in any party.

The bill approved by the Legislature would allow unenrolled voters to participate in either the Democratic or Republican primary each election cycle without changing their party affiliation. Voters who become unenrolled by withdrawing from a party may not participate in a primary for 15 days, unless they are also registering to vote at a new address.

The proposal also states that unenrolled voters who participate in a primary must be considered party members for the purpose of allocating delegates to the party’s state convention or presidential nominating convention.

The Maine Senate voted to enact the bill on Monday. It will now go to Democratic Gov. Janet Mills for potential signature.

Democratic Sen. Chloe Maxmin of Nobleboro, who proposed the bill, said many Maine voters are “locked out of primary elections that their tax dollars pay for” under the current system.