PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Mainers will head to the ballot box on Tuesday to decide on new casinos and racinos, election day voter registration and, of course, lots of local issues--- including Portland's big race for mayor.
This is an off-year election, with no candidate races. But in at least one of the campaigns, people on both sides say it's a warm-up of sorts for 2012, when there will be lots of candidates on the ballot.
Question One is about the controversial change to Maine's election day voter registration law. Republicans led the effort in the Legislature to end election day registration. Democrats led the "Peoples Veto" petition that put the question to a statewide referendum. Both parties say that as much as they hope to win the referendum, they've also been using it to prepare for 2012. Next year's ballot will include a Presidential race, a major fight for control of a new Maine legislature, and possibly another referendum on gay marriage. Republican and Democratic leaders say the work of the Question One campaign is the same work needed for any campaign: fund raising, voter identification, volunteer recruitment, door-to-door campaigning and the all important Get Out the Vote or GOTV plan. They say the work being done over the past five months should help the parties and their special interest group allies to be tuned up and ready for the many pieces of next year's political season. Democrats, in particular, say they will be focusing on regaining control of the Legislature. Republicans, on the other hand, will focus much of their effort on keeping control.
Ben Grant, chairman of the Maine democratic party, summed it up for all of them: "I don't view this as the last vote of 2011, I see it as the first vote of 2012."