For many reasons, I am outraged by L.D. 1726, which, in part, would forbid signature collection for citizen initiatives inside polling places, within 50 feet around the building and in the pathway 50 feet wide to any polling entrance.

We have a constitutional right to citizen initiatives. This bill threatens that right.

Forbidding signature collection at polling places is an infringement of freedom of speech and the right to freely petition one’s government.

Voting and signing citizen initiative and people’s veto petitions are both democratic acts, and belong at the polling places on the day Mainers come together to exercise their rights to govern themselves.

The polling place on Election Day is where voters best exercise constitutional redress of grievances by petition. Mainers have been using this unique opportunity to engage and discuss important issues for generations.

This bill would make collecting signatures at a polling place a Class E crime – it criminalizes a piece of our democratic heritage!

The bill would result in signature collecting in parking lots around the polling place, leading to chaos, confusion and risk of harm to citizens.

This bill would increase outside money in Maine politics and reduce the power of ordinary citizens.Without the ability to collect signatures on Election Day, with volunteers tabling at their own polling places in towns across Maine, initiative campaigns would have to rely on paid signature collectors, out of the reach of ordinary citizens, and a tool used only by well-financed interests.

Jeffrey Smith