Tag Archives: Maine

Super PAC Spending in Maine’s Senate Race

Former_Maine_Governor_Angus_King_cropped

Despite running against spending from non-local groups, Maine’s Senator-Elect Angus King’s campaign benefitted from money spent on his behalf by Super PAC’s.

King’s campaign was opposed to recent campaign finance reform measures that created Super PAC’s. Super PAC’s do not have to disclose their donors and can contribute unlimited amounts of money. However, they cannot give money directly to a candidate.

“Angus is opposed to the involvement of Super PACs in local elections because they have the capacity to wield unprecedented financial influence in campaigns while also shielding certain donor categories from disclosure,” said campaign policy analyst Eliza Bryant.

During the campaign, King attempted to get Republican candidate Charlie Summers and Democratic candidate Cynthia Dill to sign a pledge stating they wouldn’t take money from Super PAC’s.

“It’s kind of ironic that Angus King has run around the state of Maine descrying outside money and how bad it is, yet he’s down in Michael Bloomberg’s living room two days ago raising a half a million dollars,” said Summers during the campaign.

However, Super PAC’s are prohibited from donating directly to political candidates. They can only donate to campaign committees, which are not allowed to coordinate with a candidate’s campaign. Therefore, King has no control over what money Super PAC’s spend advertising for his campaign.

According to Federal Election Commission (FEC) filings, Super PAC Citizens Elect spent over a million dollars ($1,234,520) on television advertising, polling and media consulting for Angus King. It spent an additional $193,000 on advertising against Charlie Summers. By contrast, the National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action, the leading Super PAC contributor supporting Summers, spent only $117,000.

“The majority of the outside money in this election has been spent in attack ads against Angus King. In total, outside influences have spent over $3 million on these ads, comprising 75% of the money that has been spent on ads in this race,” said Bryant.

In total, about $3 million was spent by Super PAC’s on ads against King. About $1.7 million was spent by Super PAC’s on ads against Summers. Of the $6.4 million spent on the race, only about 46% of the money spent by Super PAC’s was used for negative ads against King.

Maine's Battle Over Voter Registration

As the presidential election draws closer and many states hold their midterm elections this month, voter identification and registration has once again become a hotly contested issue. Not even the state of Maine has escaped this controversy, as same day voter registration is the controversial first question on the ballot.

Because many Mainers are unfamiliar with the background of the question, there is confusion over what a yes or no vote means.

The question reads:

Do you want to reject the section of Chapter 399 of the Public Laws of 2011 that requires new voters to register to vote at least two business days prior to an election?

A ‘yes’ vote means repealing a law requiring voters to register before they go to the polls. It means people could register and vote all in one trip to the polls.

A ‘no’ vote means that the voter wishes to uphold the bill and wants to require Maine voters to register to vote before they go to the polls on election day.

Clearly, the wording of the question is confusing, especially if you don’t know what Chapter 399 of the Public Laws of 2011 is. In June of this year, Governor Paul LePage signed An Act to Preserve the Integrity of the Voter Registration and Election Process. This updated Maine’s registration law so that mail registration must be mailed 21 business days before the election and in person registration must be done at least 3 business days before the election. Mainers who were angry with this change of policy enacted a petition that gained enough signatures to force Question 1 onto the state ballot.

Now that it is there, the pressure to influence voters is high. Groups who want same day voter registration to continue are campaigning on the usual line- If same day voter registration is vetoed, people won’t vote, especially the lower classes. They have also been pressuring students to vote yes on Question 1, claiming that it helps ensure their voice be heard.

Opponents to same day voter registration are crying foul- their argument is the same for those who advocate the mandatory use of voter ID- reducing the risk of fraud. Obviously, same day voter registration eliminates verification of identity before voting, making it much easier for illegal immigrants to vote and much easier for people to assume identities that are not theirs.

This question is certainly the most contested question in the state and reflects a growing national conflict over voter security. In a day and age where identity theft is easy and at many polling places, identity verification is lax, many are calling for the use of voter ID. This has the possibility of taking on many forms-a drivers license, student ID, insurance card, etc. But opponents to such measures claim that this would lead to racial discrimination and would stop minorities and the low class from voting. Many scoff at this idea since required voter ID would mean all voters, regardless of race, would have to prove their identity.

The results of this ballot question will be interesting, as it may set a precedent for the issue of voter identification and registration on a national issue. Do voters believe the charges that same day voter registration leads to fraud? Or do they believe instead that same day voter registration is a great benefit to those without means to get around or have busy schedules and fraud is not important? Whatever the outcome, this is an important vote to watch as the national election, and questions of required voter ID come to a climax.