An Act To Make Certain Local Primaries Nonpartisan
Sec. 1. 18-A MRSA §1-501, first ¶, as amended by PL 1995, c. 683, §2, is further amended to read:
Registers of probate are elected or appointed as provided in the Constitution of Maine. Their election is effected and determined as is provided respecting county commissioners by Title 30-A, chapter 1, subchapter II 2, except that nomination and qualification of candidates and any necessary open primary election are governed by Title 21-A, chapter 5, subchapter 1-A, and they enter upon the discharge of their duties on the first day of January following their election; but the term of those appointed to fill vacancies commences immediately. All registers, before acting, shall give bond to the treasurer of their county with sufficient sureties in the sum of $2,500, except that this sum must be $10,000 for Cumberland County. Every register, having executed such bond, shall file it in the office of the clerk of the county commissioners of that register's county, to be presented to them at their next meeting for approval. After the bond has been so approved, the clerk shall record it and certify the fact thereon, and retaining a copy thereof, deliver the original to the register, who shall deliver it to the treasurer of the county within 10 days after its approval, to be filed in the treasurer's office. Vacancies caused by death, resignation, removal from the county, permanent incapacity as defined in Title 30-A, section 1, subsection 2-A or any other reason must be filled as provided in the Constitution of Maine. In the case of a vacancy in the term of a register of probate who was nominated by primary election before the general election, the register of probate appointed by the Governor to fill the vacancy until a successor is chosen at election must be enrolled in the same political party as the register of probate whose term is vacant. In making the appointment, the Governor shall choose from any recommendations submitted to the Governor by the county committee of the political party from which the appointment is to be made.
Sec. 2. 21-A MRSA c. 5, sub-c. 1-A is enacted to read:
OPEN PRIMARIES FOR CERTAIN OFFICES
§ 345. Covered office
For purposes of this subchapter, unless the context otherwise indicates, "covered office" means a register of probate elected pursuant to Title 18-A, section 1-501, a district attorney elected pursuant to Title 30-A, section 251 or a sheriff elected pursuant to Title 30-A, section 371-B.
§ 346. Nomination and qualification; open primary election
Notwithstanding subchapter 1 or 2, this section governs the nomination and qualification of a candidate for a covered office and any necessary open primary election.
Sec. 3. 30-A MRSA §251, sub-§1, as enacted by PL 1987, c. 737, Pt. A, §2 and Pt. C, §106 and amended by PL 1989, c. 6; c. 9, §2; and c. 104, Pt. C, §§8 and 10, is further amended to read:
Sec. 4. 30-A MRSA §252, sub-§2, ¶A, as amended by PL 1995, c. 245, §5, is repealed.
Sec. 5. 30-A MRSA §371-B, sub-§§1 and 2, as repealed and replaced by PL 1997, c. 562, Pt. D, §6 and affected by §11, are amended to read:
This bill creates an open, nonpartisan petition and primary process for nomination of candidates for election to the positions of register of probate, district attorney and sheriff. If more than 2 candidates are qualified for an office through the petition process, an open primary is held in which all voters, regardless of party affiliation, are eligible to vote. The 2 candidates getting the highest number of votes are then nominated to appear on the general election ballot. If 2 or fewer candidates are qualified through the petition process, no primary is held and those candidates appear on the general election ballot.