Viewpoint: Maine asset 

By Ellen L. Dohmen 

How truly lucky we Mainers are! Our legislators were smart enough, careful enough and forward thinking enough to elect Shenna Bellows as the first woman ever to be our secretary of state. 

Shenna Bellows has a history of standing up for every citizen, of championing the rights of minorities and fighting for fairness in government. As a state senator for the past four years, she has made a point to solicit input from individuals all over the state of Maine, listening and working to make sure all voices are heard. 

The recent November election has certainly shown us the importance of the role of secretary of state in supporting and protecting the rights of every voter. Shenna has supported automatic voter registration, election audits, ranked choice voting and a national popular vote. She states that “free and fair elections are fundamental to everything else we care about.” And at a time when confidence in the integrity of our elections has been questioned and undermined, Shenna sought the role of secretary of state in order to increase voter participation and strengthen public confidence in the elections in Maine. 

In her speech to the legislature, she said, “We are at an incredibly important time in our nation’s history. The integrity of our elections has been challenged, and we need to prepare for what’s coming. My work on voting started in 2004 on the Voting Rights Act Reauthorization bill. In 2011, when Maine’s same-day voter registration law was repealed and college students were threatened for trying to vote, I organized lawyers to defend students and co-chaired the campaign to save our law. We won those fights, and fights like marriage equality and ranked choice voting. Today Maine is better off than most states when it comes to the strength of our democracy.” 

For the past two years as executive director of the Holocaust and Human Rights Center of Maine, Shenna has worked diligently to bring programs to schools all over our state to inspire people to reflect upon and act to confront prejudice and discrimination. As executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine for eight years, she worked to lead the campaign to legalize marriage for LGBTQ citizens, was a founding member of the Maine Immigrants Rights Coalition, and was co-chairman of Protect Maine Votes. 

Because the secretary of state is also responsible both for the Bureau of Motor Vehicles and for the maintenance of our governmental archives, Shenna has already looked into these departments and will work with staff to explore opportunities to make sure these departments continue to work efficiently and in the public best interest. 

With her history of work for human rights, for equal representation of all of us, her management skills and ability to form and work with coalitions of people, Shenna Bellows has been and will continue to be an asset to Maine.  

When Shenna Bellows stands up and represents the state of Maine, we will all be very proud! 


Ellen L. Dohmen resides in Bar Harbor  

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