PORTLAND, Maine (AP) - Democratic Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap says his office's bill making signature gathering at the polls a crime is not meant to kill the citizen initiative process as critics have charged.

Dunlap said Friday the bill's provision to prohibit exit polling, signature gathering and charitable activities within 50 feet of the polls' entrance is meant to spark a conversation about election day conduct. He said voters and individual municipal clerks have complained about aggressive signature-gatherers.

But voting rights groups and a Maine Democratic lawmaker who co-sponsored the bill said they'll fight to strike that provision from the bill.

The bill's hearing is set for Wednesday.

Last year, the North Dakota Supreme Court said a man broke state law by gathering signatures within 100 feet of a polling place.