MGIP opens primary election to unenrolled voters

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Jan. 6, 2016
Augusta--Maine Green Independent Party Co-Chairman Gil Harris delivered a letter to Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap today, formally notifying the state that under the provisions of Maine Statute 21-A ยง340, "Notice of parties of qualified primary voters," the party has determined that unenrolled voters (commonly called "Independents") are eligible to vote in the 2016 Green Independent Party primary, in addition to enrolled Green Independents.

Maine Green Independent Party members voted at an annual convention, Aug. 22, 2015, to allow unenrolled voters ("Independents") to vote in the party's 2016 primary election, along with Green Independents. According to the statute, notification must be made during the general election year and before Feb. 1. Harris notified the state of the party's primary eligibility requirements as early as possible, so that municipal clerks across the state may be informed and trained on who may vote on Green Independent ballots.

"We've been looking into this and to the best of our knowledge, this may be the first instance of any political party in Maine allowing more than enrolled party members to vote in a primary," Harris said. "Our hopes are that voters who have been disenfranchised or frustrated by other parties will realize they have another option."

Harris said grassroots democracy is one of the 10 Key Values of the Maine Green Independent Party, and opening the primary to additional voters could be another way to increase participation in the political process.

"We know that our values resonate with a majority of voters and we want their confidence that we are working for them," Harris said. "This should be considered an open invitation for Independents to try us out, even if just for one election, with no strings attached."

Next, Dunlap must inform all municipal clerks of the new qualifications necessary for voters to participate in the Green Independent Party primary.

"The clerks shall establish procedures to ensure that all qualified primary voters are offered ballots for each party in which primary election the voters are qualified to vote," the statute states.

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