AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — Election advocates in Maine want a state judge to rule on the constitutionality of some of the state's elections systems, including whether absentee ballots must be counted if postmarked by Election Day.
The lawsuit was filed against Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap and Attorney General Aaron Frey to address election challenges related to the coronavirus pandemic. The case was the subject of a Monday hearing at Kennebec County Superior Court that was scheduled to resume on Tuesday.
The lawsuit contends voters' ability to cast ballots could be in jeopardy because of the pandemic and Maine's election systems. The plaintiffs wrote that a rapid shift to absentee voting in the wake of COVID-19 represents a significant change for Maine and that voters could be disenfranchised unless several absentee ballot and voter registration procedures are changed.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Maine filed a brief in support of the lawsuit. The ACLU said in a statement it's the state's responsibility to remove barriers to voting between now and Election Day. That includes providing prepaid return postage for absentee ballots, the group said.
“This is going to be an unprecedented election in regards to absentee voting,” said Zachary Heiden, chief counsel of the ACLU of Maine. “And Maine's practices need to be updated to reflect that.”
Dunlap's office declined to comment on the lawsuit.