Mary Adams, Longtime Activist for Voter Rights’ Stands Up to the Maine Legislature
Today, long time ballot initiative rights activist—and Citizens in Charge Foundation Maine Citizen State Coordinator—Mary Adams informed the Maine Legislature’s Legal and Veterans Affairs Committee of the harm posed to the citizen initiative process by a series of bills.
Mary’s testimony on three bills, which can be found here, begins “I am here this afternoon, as I have done ever since the late 70’s, to protect this wonderful process granted to the citizens of the state a century ago.” She goes on to inform the committee that the three bills – LD 1690, LD 1692 and LD 1730 – would all restrict the “wonderful process” that belongs to the citizens.
These bills restrict how petitions can be circulated by requiring people working on petition campaigns to register with the state –to ask the government for the permission to petition government—and chill petitioning by putting voter’s names on a list for potential harassment.
Relying not on her own words, but citing the state Supreme Court, Mary reminds legislators:
“[the court has] previously recognized the importance of the right of initiative, and again conclude that the right of the people to initiate and seek to enact legislation is an absolute right… It cannot be abridged directly or indirectly by any action of the Legislature. Id. In short, the Legislature is authorized to enact implementing legislation, but cannot do so in any way that is inconsistent with the Constitution or that abridges directly or indirectly the people’s right of initiative.”
Restrictions like the ones proposed would certainly abridge the right of initiative.
Those legislators working to hamper the petitioning process had support as well. According to the Maine Public Broadcasting Network, “Joel Foster, of the Washington, D.C.-based Ballot Initiatives Strategy Center favors restrictions on the process contained in several of the bills.”