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For Immediate Release
February 4, 2002
Contact: Dan A. Gwadosky
207-626-8400

Secretary Gwadosky Rules on Tax Cap Initiative
Citizen Initiated Referendum Ruled Invalid

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

Initially submitted
53,795
Excluded by local officials
8,034
Excluded by the Secretary of State
6,472
Total valid signatures
39,289
   
Total needed for approval
42,101

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
OFFICE OF THE SECRETARY OF STATE

DETERMINATION OF THE VALIDITY
OF A PETITION FOR INITIATED LEGISLATION ENTITLED,
"AN ACT TO IMPOSE LIMITS ON REAL AND PERSONAL PROPERTY TAXES"


1. On October 12th and 15th, 2001, petitions containing 53,795 signatures were submitted to the Secretary of State pursuant to the Constitution of Maine, Article IV, Part Third, Section 18, on behalf of the initiated legislation entitled, "An Act to Impose Limits on Real and Personal Property Taxes."

2. Following a review of the petitions I find the following signatures to be invalid for the following reasons:

A. 8,544 signatures are invalid because they were not certified by the registrar as belonging to a registered voter in that municipality.

B. 2,321 signatures are invalid because they are duplicate signatures already counted.

C. 183 signatures are invalid because the petitioner dated his or her signature after the date of the circulator's oath before the notary.

D. 113 signatures are invalid because the notary was not qualified as a notary at the time the oath was made or because the notary did not complete the verification.

E. 127 signatures are invalid because of material alterations to the petition.

F. 53 signatures are invalid because the registered voter's signature was made by another.

G. 42 signatures are invalid because the certification of the registrar was not completed.

H. 42 signatures are invalid because the notary was related to the circulator.

I. 16 signatures are invalid because the registrar made a counting error.

J. 9 signatures are invalid because the petitioner failed to provide a signature.

K. 2 signatures are invalid because the circulator's verification was incomplete.

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.


Dated: February 4, 2002

Dan Gwadosky Signature
Dan A. Gwadosky, Secretary of State