AUGUSTA, Maine — Election day is just one week away. With tens of thousands of votes already in, a secure election is top of mind for Maine voters and legislators.
State Sen. Nicole Grohoski (D - Hancock) was joined by other legislators at the Maine State House Tuesday morning to talk about a growing problem with state elections.
"Maine people are sick and tired of having their voices drowned out by all this money, all these advertisements, especially right now as we wind down election season," Sen. Grohoski said.
Grohoski said they gathered in the Hall of Flags at the State House to address foreign government interference and dark money special interest groups.
Organized by the Protect Maine Elections campaign, more than 80,000 signatures were submitted to the Secretary of State in support of placing new limits on campaign spending.
"Money is coming in from groups that have these great names, you know, like Maine values first or Mainers for this or Mainers for that, and we don't know who's donating to those PACs," Grohoski said.
State Sen. Rick Bennett (R - Oxford), chairman of Protect Maine Elections, said although foreign government can't contribute to candidate campaigns, the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) recently ruled it has no control over state referendum campaigns.
"We need to allow Maine people to control Maine elections. Not foreign actors, not transnational corporations, not dark money special interests..." Sen. Bennett said.
Sen. Bennett said only about 63,000 signatures were needed to get this initiative before the state legislature and eventually on next year's ballot.
To read the full legislation submitted to the Secretary of State, click here.
Congressman Jared Golden is also backing the plan.
Kaitlin LaCasse, campaign manager for Protect Maine Elections, said these signatures are democracy in action.
"The strength of our democracy and the integrity of our democracy is not a partisan issue. It is important to all Mainers that Maine voices are heard," LaCasse said.
State legislators said they fear this foreign money interfering with campaigns in Maine could have an even greater impact on the future of our elections.
"What I worry about is voters that I talk to who are not sure if they even want to vote anymore," Sen. Grohoski said.
They said the time to act is now.
"Enough is enough, it's time to solve this problem of money in politics," Sen. Bennett said.