The Maine Senate agreed by the narrowest of margins June 8 to prevent people from registering to vote on Election Day.

The bill, LD 1376, received the support of the House on June 6. The bill becomes law in September if the governor signs the legislation.

The proposal has been met with sharp criticism. The Maine Civil Liberties Union has promised to look at ways to preserve the same-day registration and voting that has been the law of Maine for 38 years.

The Civil Liberties Union noted that in 1972, prior to adoption of same-day voter registration, Maine ranked 21st in the country in voter turnout. In 2008, Maine had the third highest voter turnout in the country. The only states to surpass Maine in voter turnout in 2008 — Minnesota and Wisconsin — also have Election Day voter registration.

LD 1376 was opposed by AARP, Common Cause, Disability Rights Center, EqualityMaine, Homeless Voices for Justice, League of Women Voters, League of Young Voters, Maine Civil Liberties Union, Maine People’s Alliance, Maine Women’s Lobby, and Preble Street Resource Center.

In the Senate, where the vote was 18-17, local Republicans were split on the matter.

Sen. Christopher Rector of Thomaston voted against LD 1376. Sens. A. David Trahan and Michael Thibodeau voted to end same-day registration and voting.

The legislation was sponsored by Maine House Speaker Robert Nutting of Oakland. The Legislature’s Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee recommended approval of LD 1376.

The bill eliminates registration of new voters on Election Day and during the two business days before Election Day.

The bill also 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 voting June 6 for the bill to ban same-day registration and voting were Republican Reps. Wes Richardson of Warren, Dana Dow of Waldoboro, and Jonathan McKane of Newcastle. Voting against the bill were Democratic Reps. Edward Mazurek of Rockland, Chuck Kruger of Thomaston, Joan Welsh of Rockport, Andrew O’Brien of Lincolnville, and Walter Kumiega III of Deer Isle.

Richardson said he voted for the bill at the request of town clerks who contacted him because same-day registration causes considerably more work.