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Maine Struggles to get Precise Election Data Needed to Determine Political Party Ongoing Status

Published on June 29, 2011, by in General.

In 2009, the Maine legislature eased the vote test for a party to remain ballot-qualified. The old test required a party to poll 5% of the vote for the office at the top of the ticket, at either of the last two elections. This was a difficult test, but the Green Party satisfied it by polling over 5% for Governor in all gubernatorial elections 1994 through 2006.

In 2009, the legislature changed the test for a party to remain ballot-qualified. No longer did it need to poll 5% for a top office. Instead, it merely had to have at least 10,000 registered members who voted in the general election. It didn’t matter whom they voted for. The legislature could have made this much simpler by just saying a party remained ballot-qualified if it had at least 10,000 registered members, but that is not what they did.

As a result, Maine election officials are required to do an elaborate calculation of how many registered members in each party voted in a general election. This job is so difficult, Maine still hasn’t finished the 2010 calculation. The Maine Secretary of State knows that at least 16,272 registered Greens did vote in November 2010, so the party is safely on the ballot for 2012. But the calculation is still incomplete, because six towns still haven’t reported the data to the Secretary of State. There is no problem, because the Green Party easily exceeded the requirement, but if the party’s turnout had been significantly worse, it might still not know for sure whether it had met the test. In November 2010 there were 34,255 registered Greens, so it isn’t surprising that at least 10,000 of them voted.

5 Responses

  1. Jim Riley

    With decentralized elections administration, it would be difficult to detect duplicate registrations, and those of voters who had left the state. Also with election day registration, the party might pick up new registrants.

    In 2008, the party’s presidential candidate only had 2700 votes, and it had no gubernatorial candidate in 2010, so the new system makes it easier to qualify.

  2. sheesh. can’t we get any accurate elections results anymore?

  3. Richard Winger

    #2, every state must have a centralized list of registered voters, according to the federal Help America Vote Act passed by Congress in 2002.

  4. Jim Riley

    In November 2008, Maine had 980,000 registered “active” voters, another 90,000 registered inactive voters, and 730,000 actual voters, so 240,000 voters were missing.

    If a voter used a different name it might not be detected in a centralized voter system.

    Maine’s system is preferable to that of states where (con)fusion is used and parties have to choose between running their own candidate, and supporting a major party candidate so that they might continue to qualify.

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