People’s Veto Petition: Rules for Gathering Signatures

Circulating a petition is one of the most sacred acts of an engaged democracy. But the integrity of that effort rests on the shoulders of the circulators, and an entire campaign can fail because of cost-cutting.

The Cumberland County Democrats are joining with other organizations to attempt to put a question on the November ballot that would repeal the Legislature’s ban on same-day voter registration, which has worked well for Maine for decades. (More on this at http://www.protectmainevotes.com/) As we begin gathering signatures, please bear these rules in mind.

  • There are no shortcuts!
  • 57,277 signatures will keep the law from taking effect until the voters decide whether or not to let it stand.
  • We have 90 days from the date of the adjournment of the Legislature to circulate and have verified the signatures needed.
  • August 9 is the tentative deadline to get this question on the November ballot!
  • You are the legal steward of every petition you manage. It is your name that is on the petition, and you are legally accountable for the methods employed to gather signatures.
  • The signatures must be physically made by the voter. Absolutely no online, electronic or photocopied methods are allowed.
  • You must personally witness every signature.
  • You will sign a notarized oath to this effect. You will do this for every form you circulate. The notary who affirms your oath may not be related to you, under Maine law.
  • In the past, desperate or sloppy signature-gatherers have left petitions unattended on store counters, at public supper tables or at fair booths. If the circulator has not witnessed each person signing the petition, every signature on that petition could be disqualified.
  • In rare cases, petition-gatherers have pulled names out of phone books and copied them onto forms. This is a crime and is punishable under the law.
  • Only registered Maine voters may circulate and sign petitions, regardless of party affiliation (or lack thereof). Individuals who sign and are not registered voters will not count toward the total.
  • If someone who is not a registered Maine voter circulates a petition, none of the signatures on that petition can be counted.
  • The voter must indicate the date on which he or she signed.
  • If a voter cannot do so on his or her own, you may print his or her name, address and the date signed — but the voter must personally sign the petition.
  • Once you affix your oath on a petition and date it, that petition form is closed, even if it only has one signature on it. If you then want to add signatures, you must start a new form.
  • You must use the form approved by the Secretary of State, which will have affixed the copy of the law for the people’s veto. No pads of paper, no additional pages. You fill a form, you get another form.
  • You cannot pay people to sign a petition!
  • Only the voter may sign his or her own name. Many signatures are disqualified because the signature does not belong to the registered voter. Frequently, for instance, a couple will be approached and one says to the other, “Sign for me, too.” The Secretary of State’s Office matches up signatures to original voter registration cards, so this matters. Signatures made by another person are disqualified from the total.
  • Voter participation in the petition is verified by the town clerk or registrar of voters, so it is important to keep petition forms segregated by town. There is no requirement to do this, but if you collect signatures of voters from Bingham, Buxton, Bucksport, Bangor and Bradley, you must take the same petition to each town to verify the status of the voters who signed.
  • You must submit your signatures to the towns where you collected them not less than 5 days before the deadline for submission to the Secretary of State. If they are late, the town cannot verify them, even if they want to. This requierement is in the Constitution — Article IV, Part Third, Section 20.
  • Top reasons why signatures are invalidated.
    • Signatory was not a registered voter in the town specified.
    • Circulator’s oath was not administered or was not done properly.
    • Signature was a duplicate — voters can sign as many times as they want, but only one signature counts.
    • Voter’s signature was crossed out. (There is no legal method for withdrawing a signature, but these are not counted because Elections Division staff doesn’t know why the signature was crossed out.)
    • Signature was dated after the date of the circulator’s oath.
    • Signature was not on the approved form.
    • Signature was submitted after the deadline for town verification.
    • Voter signature was made by another.
    • Voter did not sign the form.
    • The notary who affirmed the oath of the circulator was related to the circulator.
    • Signatures invalidated because of material alterations to the petition (changed dates, detaching copy of the law, etc.)
    • Petition invalidated because it could not be verified that the circulator was a registered Maine voter.
    • Petition invalidated because certification of the registrar was not completed.

This all sounds very picky. But remember, you are dealing with a Secretary of State who is unfriendly to this effort. In the last people’s veto (on the tax reform issue), petitioners submitted more than 71,000 signatures, but because of the mistakes listed above, nearly 15,000 were kicked out. Your due diligence up  front will assure that you succeed later.

THERE ARE NO SHORTCUTS!

Working for Democracy

By now I suspect you’ve heard or read about the effort being launched for a people’s veto of the repeal of election day registration.  You’ll be hearing much more about this and I’m not going to go on endlessly about what a critical issue this is…but it is!!

To me, this represents why I have been a lifelong Democrat.  What drew me to the Democratic Party 50 years ago (…yes, I started young…) was that the Democrats were and still are the party of the people.  Nothing is more representative of this than the current people’s veto effort.  Voting is the most fundamental right and obligation of a citizen of a democracy.  Next week, I will have been a resident of Maine for 30 years, and one of the things that I’ve been most proud of is the regular high turnout in elections.  This is due, in no small part, to the fact that we haven’t created barriers to registration since the enactment of same-day registration 38 years ago.  Repeal of this NOT a response to a problem.  There have only been two identified instances of voter fraud during the duration of same-day registration.  While we have been told about how the town clerks are just overwhelmed with same day registrants, the association of town clerks actually opposed the appeal and clerks have expressed great concerns about the negative and potentially angry reactions of people who will be turned away on election day, denied their right to vote. We’ve heard vile allegations of fraud, completely unfounded and aimed only at creating a false anger about the issue.  The truth is that this is part of a national effort aimed at disenfranchising voters and suppressing turnout.  The most vulnerable among us, low income, elderly and disabled individuals will be most affected by this appeal.  Additionally, young people, who tend to be more mobile and move more frequently, will find themselves denied the right to vote in disproportionate numbers.

For all of these reasons, and as a statement of our principles, we will be participating in and working to achieve success with the people’s veto.  None of us should have any illusions.  While the issues are clear and there are no principled or rational reasons to oppose this, it is going to be a difficult hill to climb and require a great deal of hard work for us all.  The first step in this process is going to be getting on the ballot.  In order to accomplish this, the coalition of organizations supporting the people’s veto is going to have to collect tens of thousands of signatures in a relatively truncated time frame.  This is going to be a major, critical activity for us.  We’re going to need the help of as many of you as can give even a little bit of time to obtain signatures on petitions.  The first steps of the campaign are now being organized and we’ll be in touch shortly to let you know where and how you can volunteer and when training will be provided.

It is impossible for me to overstate the importance of this.  In the soul-searching that went on after the 2010 elections, there was much said and written about the Democratic Party’s mission, values and how we can better act on and communicate them.  THIS IS IT!!!  This is where we take our stand in support of ALL the people of Maine and the values on which our country and state are built!!!  We will need and be counting on your help in this effort.

We’ll be in touch shortly with next steps and to let you know how you can contribute to this critical effort.  Please, let me know if you have any questions.  We look forward to working with you and to success in keeping Maine a model of democracy.
Reid Scher, Chairperson

Next meeting June 12

The Cumberland County Democrats’ next meeting will be Sunday, June 12, at 5 p.m., at the Curtis Memorial Library in Brunswick. Location and directions can be found at this link:

www.curtislibrary.com/about-us/directions

We will be focusing on current legislative and political issues, as well as looking toward 2012. Along those lines, we are going to be needing to hold elections for the 2012 convention committees.  The committees on which we have representation are the Platform Committee, the Permanent Organization Committee and the Credentials Committee.

This is a great opportunity to have input into the future direction of the party and make a contribution to the success we will have in 2012. If you are interested in serving on a committee or have questions about the committees, please e-mail chair@cumberlandcountydemocrats.org. You don’t have to be present to be elected; we’ll put into nominations the names of those who express interest.

We’re looking forward to seeing you!

Next Meeting – Monday, May 2 at 6 PM: Fulfilling Our Mission (updated!)

The CCDC has a mission and exists for one primary reason, that being to elect Democrats.  Our next meeting will be in direct support of that mission.  As I’m sure you know by now, there will be a special election on May 10 for Senate District 7.  Rep. Cynthia Dill is the nominee for this office.

Cynthia is a great candidate but, with the short timeframe for this election, needs every bit of help that we can offer.  Therefore, we are going to meet at 6 p.m. on Monday, May 2 in the Wright Pavilion at the rear of the First Congregational Church (United Church of Christ) at 301 Cottage Road in South Portland. This will be a joint meeting with the South Portland Democratic City Committee, whose members will be working jointly with us.

If you have questions about directions to the church, you can call Matt Beck, the South Portland chair, at 232-1976.

After a brief meeting (half an hour or so), we’ll go out to canvass on behalf of Cynthia! This is a great opportunity for us to begin the process of reversing the results of the 2010 election and be part of sending a message to Augusta.  We need everyone’s help if we’re to hold on to this critical seat.

We hope and need to see you on Monday evening. If you have any questions, please feel free to either email chair@cumberlandcountydems.org or call Reid Scher at 329-5843.

Rally to Save the American Dream

MoveOn.org is doing a national initiative, with activists from all fifty states meeting at their statehouses in support of the Wisconsin public employees. The national event is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 26 at noon.

Let’s gather to show our solidarity with workers in the Midwest, and our opposition to attempts at union-busting in Maine.

This Saturday, we will stand together to Save the American Dream.Sign up today to join in!

Pass this on to everyone you know who ought to be there with us…numbers count!

RSVP at http://pol.moveon.org/event/americandream/112850

 

Meeting Feb. 27 at Ri Ra!

We’re doing something a little different for this meeting. We’re going to be holding the meeting this Sunday, February 27, at 4PM, at Ri Ra in Portland. It’s going to be earlier to accommodate people’s schedules and allow for more socializing and networking time. Ri Ra is located at 72 Commercial Street in Portland (map and directions).

The social hour will be held from 4-5 PM, with the meeting from 5-6. We will have the room reserved until 7, to allow for socializing (…or another beer…) after the meeting. Bring your friends and families…It’s a great site, with a great menu and it will be a good, informative meeting, as we go about organizing in the face of Governor LePage’s policies and the Republican majorities in Augusta. The agenda will be as follows:

4-5:00 Networking

5:00 Introductions

5:05 Secretary’s Report: Pat Washburn

5:10 Treasurer’s Report: Halsey Snow

5:15 Chair’s Report: Reid Scher

5:20 Grassroots Organizing: Andrew Kain, Organizing for America

5:40 Legislative Action Plan: Senator Justin Alfond

5:55 New Business

6:00 Adjourn

6-7:00 Social Time and Networking

As ever, please feel free to be in touch if you have any questions. We’re looking forward to seeing you this Sunday…It’ll be a great time and a great launch of our organizing efforts over the next couple of years.

Thanks!!


Reid Scher, Chairperson

Next meeting Feb. 27

The next meeting of the CCDC will be held on February 27. We’ll be holding the meeting from 4-6 PM, with a social hour followed by a meeting hour. Location and agenda will be posted shortly.

We think the earlier will better accommodate people’s schedules. We’re also considering a weeknight meeting at some point; let us know if you think that’s a good or poor idea.

Check the box for Maine Dems!

If you’re anticipating a state income tax return this year, please consider checking the box to make a $10, $5 or $1 contribution to the Maine Democratic Party when you file your return.

This voluntary program is a simple way to give (the donation you choose is automatically deducted from your return) but helps us in a big way. Each year, these small gifts from many, many Mainers amount to thousands of dollars in support for the Maine Democratic Party.

Here’s how to support the Maine Democratic Party when you file your Maine State Income Taxes:
Look for Schedule CP in your income tax book. It’s titled “Voluntary Contributions & Purchase of Park Passes.”
The Democratic Party is listed on Line 1 of Schedule CP.
Check the box of the amount you’d like to contribute – $1, $5, $10 or Other – you can write in any amount you wish!

Maine Income Tax Form, Schedule CPIt’s really just that simple.

We’ll use these funds this year to help support Democrats at the state and local level who are committed to keeping tax bills fair for all working families. We’ve got a lot of work to do this year and we can’t do it without your help. Please consider making a small contribution to the Maine Democratic Party when you file your Maine State Income Taxes this year.

We also encourage you to support the Maine Clean Elections fund this year – a crucial tool for most Democrats campaigning in Maine. Checking the box on Line 1 of your regular income tax form will designate $3 to this fund and does not decrease your tax return or increase your tax payment. Help show that Mainers support clean and fair elections.

As always, thank you so much for your support.

Best Wishes,

Ben Grant, Chair
Maine Democratic Party

New state officers

Congratulations to the Maine Democratic Party officers!

Chair: Ben Grant, Portland
Vice Chair: Janet Mills, Farmington
Secretary: Susan Cook, Bath (re-elected)
Treasurer: Betty Johnson, Lincolnville
Assistant Treasurer: Roy G. Gedat, Norway

Congratulations also to Pam Fenrich, Cumberland County Vice Chair, who was elected to the state Executive Committee!

Rally to Support Affordable Care Act

Maine Can Do Better Rally to Save Health Care

Support the Affordable Care Act

Wednesday, January 19th, at 11:30am

On Monday, Maine Can Do Better postponed its Affordable Care Act rally in the wake of the assassination attempt on Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, and the tragic loss of life in Tucson. The rally has been rescheduled for Wednesday, January 19th, at 11:30am outside the State House.

Now, more than ever, we need to show Governor Lepage, Attorney General Schneider, the Maine Legislature, and Congress that Maine people want and support the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Will you join us at the rally?

Thanks to the ACA, children can no longer be denied coverage for pre-existing conditions, insurance companies can no longer yank someone’s coverage when they get sick, young people can stay on their parent’s plans until they’re 26, everyone is eligible for free preventable care coverage and seniors pay less for prescription drugs.

Unfortunately, the Affordable Care Act is under attack. Maine Governor Paul LePage and Maine Attorney General William Schneider plan to have the State of Maine join a politically motivated lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act. The U.S. House of Representatives is holding a vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act and a bill has been submitted to the Maine Legislature that would make it illegal to enforce the Affordable Care Act.  If successful, these partisan steps to undermine this landmark health care reform puts the health care of thousands of Mainers in jeopardy.

We can’t let this happen.

Please join Maine Can Do Better for a Rally to Save Health Care on Wednesday, January 19th at 11:30am.

WHEN: Wednesday, January 19th at 11:30am

WHERE: Outside the State House in-between the State House and the Cross State Office Building in Augusta, Maine

WHO: Maine Can Do Better, concerned citizens, and you!

If you plan to attend the event, please email me at lizzy@engagemaine.org.

See you Wednesday!

Lizzy R. Reinholt

Communications Coodinator, Maine Can Do Better

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