Recently, there was an effort to ask voters in Maine in a November 2016 referendum if they want to legalize recreational cannabis. However, according to the secretary of state’s office on Wednesday, it was not successful. Maine’s political director for the Marijuana Policy Project, David Boyer, stated on Wednesday that his group will be fighting the ruling with everything they’ve got.
“Based on documents they have provided, it appears that more than 17,000 valid signatures from registered Maine voters were excluded from the count because the signature of a single notary — whose notary commission has not expired — did not exactly match the signature the state has on file for that notary,” Boyer wrote. “We are exploring all legal means available to appeal this determination, and we sincerely hope that 17,000-plus Maine citizens will not be disenfranchised due to a handwriting technicality.”
The group has two weeks to file an appeal which would then be left to the Supreme Court, according to Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap.
“We’re not saying any malfeasance was or wasn’t done,” Dunlap added. “That’s not up to us to determine. … Our goal isn’t to invalidate signatures. The goal is to make sure they are valid.”
Advocates for An Act to Legalize Marijuana generated 99,229 signatures. However, Dunlap’s office only deemed 51,543 of them legitimate. This was far less than the required amount of 61,123 valid signatures. According to Dunlap, there were nearly 48,000 invalid signatures.
Advocates of the bill obtained their petitions on April 28, 2015. Ballot initiative petitions are good for a year, which means that the advocates can find more signatures between now and April 28, 2016, so that they may reach the goal of 61,123 legitimate signatures. But the due date to qualify for the 2016 ballot passed on February 1st, meaning the question would go on a ballot in 2017.
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