On Wednesday, the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Maine was notified that their ballot measure had failed to qualify for the ballot. The campaign turned in 99,229 signatures in February, but were told that nearly half of them were invalid. However, more than 17,000 valid signatures, more than enough to make the measure qualify for the ballot, were not counted. The reason: a handwriting technicality.
Supporters are not going to let the state take away the political voices of thousands of resident, and are appealing the decision. Now, the officials in charge of validating the signatures are mixing up their stories.
From U.S. News & World Report:
Maine officials have provided inconsistent accounts about whether they contacted a public notary before denying ballot access to a marijuana legalization initiative based solely on the belief the notary's handwriting was inconsistent on forms containing 17,000 otherwise valid signatures.
The various tellings of whether the notary was asked for an explanation come amid debate on whether they should have been contacted and whether the signature, which is required on petition forms, actually was inconsistent.
On Wednesday, Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap seemed to imply his office contacted the notary before its decision, telling Maine Public Radio, “it became apparent to us that we could not get good answers to our questions about the relationship between the notary and the circulator.”
But on Thursday, a spokeswoman for the secretary of state’s office, Kristen Schulze Muszynski, told U.S. News election staff “did not directly follow up with the notary,” as their signature on forms was "markedly different" from one the state had on file and on other documents they had notarized.
“We're very concerned about the apparent lack of consistency in statements from the secretary of state,” [Campaign Director David] Boyer says. “When you are about to disenfranchise 17,000 registered voters based on a technicality, it is only logical to take a few simple steps to determine whether the notary signed the petitions or not.”
We will keep you posted as this story develops.
The Current reported that a debate on the ordinance to make marijuana legal in South Portland will be held next week on Wednesday, October 22, from 7:00-8:30 p.m. in the auditorium of the South Portland High School, 637 Highland Avenue.
The South Portland School Department and Social Studies Department have arranged the event to give concerned residents the opportunity to educate themselves on the issues surrounding the referendum in South Portland prior to Election Day on November 4. If the referendum passes, it will allow residents to use and possess up to one ounce of marijuana, as well as allow the possession of paraphernalia.
Those participating in the debate include David Boyer, the Maine political director for the Marijuana Policy Project, who will be arguing in favor of the passing of the ordinance, South Portland Police Chief, Edward Googins, who will be arguing against the passing of the ordinance, and Susan Sharon, of Maine Public Radio, who will be moderating the debate.
Please support the South Portland referendum by attending the debate and encourage friends, relatives, and neighbors to do the same!