A recent 74-70 vote by the Maine House of Representatives to approve LD 1376 — An Act to Preserve the Integrity of the Voter Registration and Election Process — eliminates registration of new voters on Election Day and during the two business days before Election Day and prohibits the issuance of absentee ballots after the third business day before Election Day, except when the voter signs an application designating one of the allowable reasons for voting by absentee ballot on that day.

Local representatives Wes Richardson, R-Warren; Dana Dow, R-Waldoboro; and Jonathan McKane, R-Newcastle, may believe their votes will help lighten loads for municipal clerks and election workers, but as so many bumper stickers avow, freedom is not free. If more clerks are needed to handle the last-minute arrival of a larger number of qualified citizens, that is just one of the costs of a truly representative government.

Democracy is only maintained by the encouragement of citizens to participate by educating themselves, and to vote. While we wish more voters were so active as to show up at every forum and register early to vote, the reality of our times is that many people place their personal commitment to democracy on a back burner. The integrity of the process will not be injured by allowing last-minute registrations.

The Senate has yet to vote on LD 1376. We encourage voters to let their senators know how they feel about this important measure.