AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap issued a new decision on April 1 disqualifying 2,052 petition signatures that were previously counted as valid.
The citizens’ initiative effort “To Reject the New England Clean Energy Connect (NECEC) Transmission Project” has 66,117 valid signatures, with a total of 16,332 invalid, Dunlap’s new decision finds. A minimum of 63,067 signatures from registered Maine voters is required to get the matter on the ballot. Since the number of valid signatures exceeds the required number by a little more than 3,000 signatures, Dunlap deemed the petition valid.
The Elections Division initially completed the process of certifying the petitions on March 4, and found 69,714 signatures valid, and 12,735 signatures invalid.
Dunlap’s new decision was in response to a legal challenge by Delbert Reed, requesting that the court take additional evidence. Maine Superior Court Justice Michaela Murphy remanded the matter to the Secretary of State’s office on March 23 for the Secretary to take additional evidence, and issue an updated determination by April 1, 2020.
Jon Breed, Executive Director of ‘Clean Energy Matters,’ the political action committee behind the Central Maine Power (CMP) project, has previously accused the opposition groups collecting signatures of paying out of state notaries to collect signatures.
In his challenge to the court, Reed alleged duplicate voter signatures and issues regarding voter registration status. Dunlap’s amended decision says his office carefully examined all the charts and exhibits and re-reviewed the petitions.
Dunlap’s findings include:
- 6,260 signatures were invalid because they were not certified by the registrar belonging to a registered voter in that municipality
- 3,217 signatures invalid because they were duplicates of signatures already counted
- 811 signatures invalid because Maine residency could not be confirmed
- 2,383 signatures invalid because the circulator’s oath wasn’t complete or not administered properly, or deemed invalid based on evidence of forgeries
Read Dunlap’s full findings here:
Reed followed up with a motion Thursday, April 2, requesting that the court take additional evidence on certain issues. The court denied this motion on Friday, April 3. According to a press release, the parties are filing briefs arguing the merits of the challenge to the Secretary’s determination this week.
The Superior Court will issue a final decision on judicial review by April 13.