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February 9, 2004
For Immediate Release
Contact: Doug Dunbar
(207) 626-8400

Secretary Gwadosky Rules on Property Tax Petition

AUGUSTA, MAINE -- Secretary of State Dan A. Gwadosky ruled on Monday that enough valid signatures have been submitted to advance a citizen initiative seeking to limit real and personal property taxes in Maine.

“The petitions have been reviewed carefully and thoroughly,” said Secretary Gwadosky.   “The proposal has enough valid signatures to move forward in the process.”  

Under guidelines established in the Maine Constitution, 50,519 valid signatures were required.   The Secretary of State has determined that 51,255 valid signatures were submitted, or 736 signatures more than required.  

Unless the Legislature adopts the initiated legislation, the following question will be put before the voters statewide no later than November, 2004: “Do you want to limit property taxes to 1% of the assessed value of the property?"  

The full text of the citizen initiative petition proposal approved today is available by clicking on the “Citizen Initiative” link at www.maine.gov/sos/cec/elec/ .   

A detailed determination is attached which lists the various categories and numbers of valid and invalid signatures for this petition.   The summary of the signature determination is:

Initially submitted signatures
64,401
 
Excluded by local officials or by the Secretary of State
13,146
 
Total valid signatures
51,255

 (Total needed to advance: 50,519)

“The staff in our Bureau of Corporations, Elections and Commissions has been working extremely hard to review these petitions,” said Secretary Gwadosky.   “They are a small staff and, on top of everything else they do – like the preparation and follow-up for Maine 's record-setting referendum election last November – they've done a great job getting these petitions processed ahead of the deadline.   Local election officials also play a key role in this process and have done great work.”

Decisions on the current cycle of petitions are required by the Constitution to be issued by March 3, 2004 .   Two petitions were submitted for certification in the current cycle.   They are: “An Act to Impose Limits on Real and Personal Property Taxes, ” which filed for certification with the Secretary of State on June 3, 2003 , and “ An Act Prohibiting Certain Bear Hunting Practices,” which was filed for certification with the Secretary of State on January 28, 2004 .

“Next up is the bear petition,” said Secretary Gwadosky, “and that work already has started.”

The tax petition that advanced today is separate from the pending tax question carried over from the November 2003 election.   That carry-over question is: “Do you want the State to pay 55% of the cost of public education, which includes all special education costs, for the purpose of shifting costs from the property tax to state resources?” The carry-over question is scheduled for a statewide vote in June 2004.

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 June 3, 2003 , petitions containing 64,401 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. 8,353 signatures are invalid because they were not certified by the registrar as belonging to a registered voter in that municipality.
B. 2,825 signatures are invalid because they are duplicates of signatures already counted.
C. 1,367 signatures are invalid because the circulator's oath was not complete.
D. 167 signatures are invalid because the petitioner dated his or her signature after the date of the circulator's oath before the notary.
E. 123 signatures are invalid because the petitioner failed to provide a signature.
F. 103 signatures are invalid because the registered voter's signature was made by another.
G. 88 signatures are invalid because of material alterations to the petition.
H. 76 signatures are invalid because the petition was not on the approved form.
I. 42 signatures are invalid because the certification of the registrar was not completed.
J. 2 signatures are invalid because the circulators collected signatures prior to becoming registered to vote in the State of Maine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. For the reasons set forth above, I find that 13,146 signatures are invalid.   Petitioners have therefore submitted 51,255 valid signatures.   The number of signatures required to determine the petition to be valid is 50,519.   Because the number of valid signatures exceeds the required number by 736 signatures, I find the petition to be valid.

Dated:   February 9, 2004

_________________________
Dan A. Gwadosky
Secretary of State