In this July 2020 file photo, Joe Baldacci laughs with a supporter outside of the Cross Insurance. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine lawmakers on Monday took up a pair of bills to allow unenrolled voters, not just party members, to participate in primary elections.

Two of the proposals would let unenrolled voters participate in primaries, creating a semi-open primary, while a third would create one primary ballot using ranked-choice voting.

“Mainers have the right to be more involved in our political system and our current primary system is outdated,” said Sen. Joe Baldacci, D-Bangor, sponsor of one of the proposals.

The Legislature’s Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee held a public hearing on the proposed bills on Monday.

Proponents say that opening up primary elections would increase voter participation. Unenrolled, or independent, voters make up roughly a third of Maine’s electorate.

As it stands, only registered members of a party can vote in their own party’s primary election in Maine.