The Lakes Region Suburban Weekly carried a letter from Gordon Browne in the March 4, 2005, edition regarding a legislative bill I cosponsored, LD374. I understand, as do many people in the area, that Mr. Browne is usually very angry and has a tendency to make outlandish accusations along with injecting personal attacks and as most folks do, I normally ignore his tirades. However, Mr. Browne’s letter was so ill informed and void of the facts that I thought I’d take this opportunity to provide details which he avoided.

The Secretary of State asked me to cosponsor LD374 because of my experience with elections as a former Secretary of State. I agreed to support the bill as long as he understood that I opposed one section of the bill pertaining to the removal of petitioners from the polls. As Secretary of State, I always supported petitioners’ rights and continue to do so. He agreed with my conditions of support.

One part of the bill which I support increases landowners’ rights. Currently it’s against the law for private citizens to have political signs on their personal property, such as their lawn, if that property happens to be within 250 ft. from a voting place. I believe that people should have a right to place political signs of their choice on their own land regardless of where a voting place happens to be located. This bill will change the current law and allow citizens to exercise their full rights as landowners.

The bill will also shorten the distance from the polling sites where people can exercise their rights of freedom of speech on election day. Currently the law requires all campaigning on election day to take place at least 250 ft. from the polls. This bill would reduce the required distance to 100 ft. At many polling sites the 250 ft. requirement places people out on the roads and highways which seemed unsafe and unnecessary.

We’ve all seen those exit pollers, usually news organizations or candidates’ staff, who wait outside voting places asking people how they voted in an effort to make an early prediction of the outcome. This bill will make sure those exit pollers stay at least 25 ft. away from the entrance of the polls in an effort not to bother voters.

Again, the one section of the bill which I do not support pertains to prohibiting petition gathers from being inside the voting building. I believe that the petition process is an important right of the people. There are many Republicans and Democrats supporting my effort to amend this section out of the bill.

Finally, Mr. Browne stated in his letter that, “Mr. Diamond is a lobbyist.” That, of course, is not only false, but downright silly. Obviously, Maine law does not allow Senators and Representatives to also be lobbyists.

And on somewhat of a humorous note, yet maybe indicative of Mr. Browne’s abundance of misinformation, he asked that people call “Representatives Haskell and Plummer” about this bill. Oddly, there is no such person as Representative Haskell either in Windham or in the entire legislature.

I always encourage people to call me if they have questions or concerns about legislation which helps me explain many issues. Life’s too short to be so angry all of the time.

State Sen. Bill Diamond

Windham