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For Immediate Release
Secretary Gwadosky Rules on Tax Cap
AUGUSTA--Secretary of State Dan A. Gwadosky ruled today that insufficient valid signatures have been filed by Maine Taxpayers Action Network, a petition group circulating "An Act to Impose Limits on Real and Personal Property Taxes". The petition had been approved for circulation on October 14, 2000 and petitions were filed for certification with the Secretary of State's Office on October 12 and 15, 2001. Petitions may be circulated for one year.
The majority of the signatures found invalid were excluded because the signatures did not belong to a registered voter or were duplicates. Other signatures were excluded because of defects found in the petitions. A number of signatures were excluded because a circulator was determined not to be a Maine resident, as required by the Maine Constitution.
"When the people of Maine voted to put the right to petition the government in our Constitution, they intended the process to be carried out by Maine citizens," stated Secretary Gwadosky. "The requirement that a circulator be a resident of Maine and a registered voter, and must take an oath to that effect, goes to the integrity of the petitioning process. It ensures that legislation initiated through this process is put forth by Maine citizens with a stake and interest in the outcome. The Elections staff conducts a thorough review and the citizens of Maine deserve to have confidence in the petitioning process," concluded Secretary Gwadosky.
The direct initiative process is set forth in the Maine Constitution and allows citizens to propose bills for consideration by the Legislature through the petition process. Petitioners seeking to utilize this democratic process must collect signatures of Maine voters that represent 10% of the total number of votes cast in the last gubernatorial election. Currently, this figure is 42,101.
Summary of Signatures Determined Valid/Invalid
A copy of the Determination of Validity for this petition is attached and provides a breakdown on the signatures that were deemed invalid.
This is the third attempt by the Maine Taxpayers Action Network to file a petition on this issue. Attempts in 1996 and 1998 were not successful in obtaining the necessary signatures to place the legislation before the Maine Legislature and ultimately before Maine voters.
STATE OF MAINE
DETERMINATION OF THE VALIDITY
2. Following a review of the petitions I find the following signatures to be invalid for the following reasons:
3. I have also received and reviewed an affidavit from the Attorney General's office documenting the results of an investigation into the residency status of one circulator, identified on the petitions as James H. Powell. Based on that investigation, I find an additional 3,054 signatures to be invalid because the circulator was not a resident of the State of Maine and does not appear to be the person he purports to be. (676 of the signatures found invalid for the reasons listed in paragraph 2 above, are invalid for this reason as well.)
4. For the reasons set forth above, I find that 14,506 signatures are invalid. Petitioners have therefore submitted 39,289 valid signatures. The number of signatures required to determine the petition to be valid is 42,101. As petitioners have failed to submit a sufficient number of valid signatures, I find the petition to be invalid.