FILE - ME voting, voters, election

Voters wait in line in the gymnasium of Brunswick, Maine, Junior High School to receive ballots Nov. 6, 2018.

The Libertarian Party of Maine has filed suit against the Secretary of State, claiming overly burdensome voter registration thresholds.

The lawsuit says more than 6,000 Libertarian voter registrations were discarded by the state, and that the voters became unenrolled from the party without their permission.

There are currently only 105 registered Libertarian voters in Maine, according to the most recent data available from the Secretary of State’s office.

“You can’t simply throw out one’s choice to belong to a political party,” Libertarian Party of Maine Chairman James Baines of Hampden, one of the plaintiffs, said in a statement posted by the Portland Press Herald. “Republicans and Democrats wrote unconstitutional laws that suppress competition, and prevent thousands of independent thinkers in Maine from considering a viable political option, which many didn’t know existed. I didn’t realize I was a Libertarian until seven years ago.”

Upon enrollment of more than 5,000 members in 2016, the Libertarian Party was qualified for party status. However, state law also stipulates that a minimum of 10,000 party members have to cast votes in the election that follows, which failed to happen, relegating voters who were registered as Libertarians to “unenrolled” status in December 2018.

More than 372,000 Maine voters are considered unenrolled – not registered as Republicans, Democrats or Green Independent, according to the most recent data available from the Secretary of State’s office.

Maine’s Libertarian Party could be reestablished if 5,000 of them register by Jan. 2, 2020, according to a news release on the Secretary of State website. They would also need to turn out at least 10,000 voters in the November 2020 election to maintain their party status.

In their lawsuit, the plaintiffs ask the federal court to bar Dunlap, a Democrat, from applying the state laws, thereby letting Libertarians take part in the election process until lawmakers amend the statute.

A recent effort by Rep. Justin Fecteau, R-Augusta, to reduce the required enrollment numbers did not pass the Legislature.