Lawmakers passed a number of key bills this session that protect public health, curb environmental damage, ban conversion therapy and racial discrimination, expand abortion access, promote voter registration, and protect the rights of terminally ill patients. Efforts to repeal these laws via “people’s veto” are underway in Maine this summer. Decline to sign these petitions and report irregularities to the Secretary of State.
Maine’s Secretary of State office has approved 12 petitions for people’s vetoes this year, a process that allows bill-repealing referendums to be placed on the ballot if enough eligible signatures have been gathered. The bills in question were priorities of progressive groups across the state, including Suit Up Maine, and include:
- Conversion therapy ban
- Green energy jobs initiatives
- Environmental protections
- Steps to increase voter participation
- Expansion of abortion access
- Stronger vaccination requirements
- Civil rights protections
- Death with dignity
- Read the full list of the 12 people’s veto petitions.
WHO’S BEHIND THE PETITIONS
All 12 petitions are sponsored or co-sponsored by Maine resident Jack McCarthy, who is reportedly affiliated with Sovereign Citizens, which the FBI listed as a domestic terrorist group in 2010. Other co-sponsors include Concerned Women of America, which seeks to “bring Biblical principles into all levels of public policy” and the Christian Civic League of Maine, which also seeks to “bring a Biblical perspective to public policy issues.” (See a full list of proponents.)
HOW PEOPLE’S VETO PETITIONS WORK
Petitioners must follow certain steps to legally acquire signatures. Petitioners must be registered Maine voters and the petitions they circulate must include the ballot question approved by the Secretary of State and the full text of the legislation the petition would repeal. To be added to the ballot, each petition must be signed by 63,067 registered Maine voters (10% of votes cast in 2018 governor’s race). Petitioners have until Aug. 6 to collect signatures to get a people’s veto question on the November ballot or until Sept. 18 to get the veto on the ballot for the next statewide election in either March or June. (If the petition to overturn the law creating presidential primaries is successful, the next statewide election will be the state and Congressional primaries in June. If it is not, the next statewide election will be the presidential primaries in March.)
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
Petitioners are out in force this summer at fairs and festivals, outside public buildings and businesses and in community canvasses. While the law requires them to share the approved proposed ballot question and the text of the law they want to repeal, the law does not ban petitioners from using misinformation to trick voters into signing. Don’t base your signature on what a petitioner says the question or law includes; be sure to read the full ballot question and legislation. Some businesses have allowed petitioners to gather signatures inside or just outside the establishment. As a customer, you may always respectfully lodge a complaint with the manger/owner if you are uncomfortable with a petitioner’s approach. The Elections division of the Maine Secretary of State’s office encourages Maine residents to report any irregularities regarding petitions or petitioners, such as if the petitioner refuses to provide the required information or if the petitioner is not a registered Maine voter. For more information, call the Elections division at 207-624-7650. Have questions? Email us at email@example.com.