Tag Archives: maine

Judge Orders Maine Sec. of State to Implement Ranked Choice Voting

(IVN) Kennebec County Superior Court Justice Michaela Murphy ordered Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap to implement ranked choice voting for the June primary elections Wednesday, not long after Dunlap reportedly told lawmakers he had no intention of doing so.

Maine voters successfully acted against the legislature’s attempt to delay and repeal ranked choice voting by getting a people’s veto on the June primary ballot. This means ranked choice voting would be used in statewide primary elections while Mainers also vote on repealing a law passed by state lawmakers that would kill the voting reform.

There was significant doubt whether or not Dunlap — who has opposed ranked choice voting — would honor the will of voters, especially after he reportedly told the Democratic Caucus in Maine that he would not be implementing it for the primary.

The Committee for Ranked Choice Voting requested a court-ordered injunction to force RCV’s implementation. RCV advocates along with eight candidates for Governor, Congress, and the Maine Legislature, argued that confusion over what voting method would be used would cause “irreparable harm” to the election process.

Justice Murphy agreed.

“The uncertainty that halting the ranked-choice voting implementation process at this late date is significant. Clarity, stability and public confidence are essential to ensure the legitimacy of Maine elections,” writes Murphy.

State lawmakers continue to fight the implementation of ranked choice voting as another complaint was filed Wednesday to stop the will of Maine voters. However, as a result of Murphy’s order, Maine will officially be the first state in the nation to use ranked choice voting for statewide elections.

Read the full 14-page opinion below:

https://www.scribd.com/document/375548365/Maine-Judge-Orders-RCV-Implementation

 

Written by Shawn M. Griffiths

This article was reprinted with permission from IVN.

 

Libertarian Party of Maine Files Suit Seeking Recognized Party Status, Ballot Access

The Libertarian Party of Maine filed a federal lawsuit on January 4 seeking official recognition as a party on Maine’s election ballots.

Truth in Media previously reported that Maine Sec. of State Matthew Dunlap had rejected the party’s request for official party status on Dec. 9 despite the fact that the party had submitted 6,482 registration cards to prove that it had over 5,000 members as of Dec. 1 as required by state law. Independent parties in Maine must prove their level of membership by Dec. 1 of the year prior to an election.

Officials in Maine only certified 4,489 of those registration cards, leaving the Libertarian Party just shy of the required 5,000 mark.

[RELATED: DONEGAN: If GOP Debate Stage Can Fit 11, Let Third Parties In General Election Debates]

According to a copy of the complaint obtained by Ballot Access News, Libertarian Party of Maine v. Dunlap names Sec. of State Dunlap, Deputy Sec. of State Julie Flynn, Division of Elections Assistant Director Tracy Willett, and the Maine Department of the Secretary of State as defendants.

The complaint states, “With the sole exception of the office of President of the United States, the primary election is the exclusive gateway to participation in Maine’s general election for all political parties and their candidates, major and minor alike. Unlike
other states around the nation, Maine does not allow minor political parties to nominate
candidates for federal, state or local office by holding a party convention. Unsurprisingly, no minor party candidate for the U.S. House or Senate has gained access to the general election ballot in Maine during the past ninety (90) years.

It added, “On or about December 8, 2015, at a meeting with Deputy Flynn and her
assistant, Melissa Packard, at the Department’s offices in Augusta, Plaintiff Maderal was told that the unofficial ‘verified’ number of Maine voters enrolled in the Libertarian Party according to the Department’s records was only 4489, falling below the 5000 threshold for qualification under 21-A M.R.S.A. § 303… The unofficial ‘verified’ number of enrollments verbally reported to Maderal on December 8th raised numerous discrepancies and concerns, when compared with the number of voter registration and enrollment forms submitted to the Department and all the various town and cities prior to December 1st (totaling 6,482). Of particular concern was what appeared to be an unusually high rejection/failure rate for the enrollments (amounting to some 31% of all enrollments submitted), and LPME’s inability to verify whether the towns and cities actually received and processed all the forms submitted to them and to the Department.

The complaint argues that the Dec. 1 deadline for proving party status “unnecessary burdens on Plaintiffs’ rights to express themselves, to associate politically, and to
cast their votes effectively, among others, which rights are guaranteed to them under the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.

The Libertarian Party of Maine maintains that Sec. of State Dunlap’s decision prevents the party’s candidates from obtaining ballot access and disenfranchises the party’s voters. Party officials also argued that Dunlap’s ruling effectively nullifies thousands of the party’s membership applications.

For context, the Truth in Media Project released a Consider This video in July of 2015 highlighting the fact that independent voters now outnumber Republicans and Democrats. Watch it in the below-embedded video player.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uf26DKntwzM

Maine Sec. of State Rejects Libertarian Party’s Application for Ballot Access

Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap’s office announced on Dec. 9 that the Libertarian Party is not considered a qualified party for ballot access.

State law requires minor parties to prove that they have at least 5,000 members by Dec. 1 of the year prior to an election in order to obtain ballot access. The Libertarian Party of Maine submitted 6,400 party registration cards on Dec. 1 of 2015, but the request for ballot access was reportedly rejected when officials failed to process all of the submitted cards in advance of the deadline.

[RELATED: DONEGAN: If GOP Debate Stage Can Fit 11, Let Third Parties In General Election Debates]

By the end of the day on Dec. 1, Maine officials had only processed 4,489 of the Libertarian Party’s registration cards, leaving the official count just shy of the required number, despite the fact that almost 2,000 more of the party’s registration cards had been submitted but not processed.

Ballot Access News’ Richard Winger, an expert on U.S. election law, suggested that the Libertarian Party might have grounds for a legal challenge against the ruling and wrote, “It is extremely likely that the December 1 deadline is unconstitutionally early. Courts have struck down early petition or registration deadlines for a group to qualify for party status in Alabama (April was too early), Arkansas (January was too early), California (January was too early), Idaho (May was too early), Nebraska (February was too early), Nevada (April was too early), New Mexico (April was too early), Ohio (November of the year before the election was too early), South Dakota (February was too early), and Tennessee (April was too early). All of those were procedures to qualify a party, not procedures for candidates.

He added, “The earliest deadline for a new party to qualify that was upheld [in the courts] was the Alabama March deadline, but the reason it was upheld was that Alabama had its primary for all office in March. In the past, when Alabama had a June primary for all office, the April petition deadline was held unconstitutional. The Maine primary is June 14, 2016.

Winger also noted that, in the case of general election ballot access qualifications for individual independent candidates, “A US District Court invalidated Maine’s non-presidential independent candidate petition deadline of April in Stoddard v Quinn, in 1984.

For context, the Truth in Media Project released a Consider This video in July of 2015 highlighting the fact that independent voters now outnumber Republicans and Democrats. Watch it in the below-embedded video player.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uf26DKntwzM

Maine Governor Signs Constitutional Carry Bill Legalizing Concealed Carry Without Permit

On Wednesday, Maine Governor Paul LePage signed Legislative Document 652 into law, a bill that removes the requirement that lawful gun owners age 21 and up first obtain a permit before carrying a concealed firearm. The bill also allows veterans and active-duty military members to carry concealed without a permit starting at 18 years of age.

This bill authorizes a person who is not prohibited from possessing a firearm to carry a concealed handgun without a permit. This bill also authorizes a person to possess a loaded pistol or revolver while in a motor vehicle or a trailer or other vehicle being hauled by a motor vehicle,” read the bill’s legislative summary.

Bearing Arms notes that Maine, which is already an open carry state, now joins five other states in allowing “constitutional carry,” a phrase describing a legal environment in which citizens retain their Second Amendment right to carry a concealed firearm without being required to apply for a permit. Arizona, Alaska, Arkansas, Kansas, and Vermont are the other five states that allow the practice. Wyoming allows a lesser form of constitutional carry that only applies to state residents.

[RELATED: Kansas Governor Brownback Signs Constitutional Carry Bill into Law]

WCSH-TV notes that law enforcement agencies were split in their opinions on the bill, as Maine’s State Police offered their support for LD 652’s passage, whereas the Maine Chiefs of Police Association spoke out against it.

The Maine chapter of the anti-gun group Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America issued a statement condemning the passage of the bill and claiming that it makes “it legal for certain violent criminals and people who have never handled a gun to carry hidden, loaded handguns in public.” However, the new law does not allow the possession of firearms by individuals such as violent felons who have had their Second Amendment rights stripped through due process.

According to Reuters, the new law will take effect 90 days after the adjournment of the state’s legislature, which is expected to happen in mid-July.

It’s encouraging to see a governor stand up for the rights of their constituents, instead of caving to the demands of anti-gun billionaire [Michael Bloomberg] from New York City. On behalf of the NRA’s five million members, we would like to thank Gov. LePage, Senator Eric Brakey, and the House and Senate leadership for their work in pushing this legislation through,” said Chris Cox, executive director of the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action. WMTW-TV notes that groups funded by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg ran ads opposing the passage of LD 652.

Maine’s concealed carry permit process, which requires a licensing fee, gun safety test, criminal background check, and an assessment of the citizen’s moral character, will remain in place for those traveling residents who want to take advantage of Maine’s concealed carry permit reciprocity agreements with other states.

Maine Legislature Nullifies Federal Hemp Farming Ban

Last year, lawmakers in Maine passed a bill which would authorize hemp farming in the state as soon as the federal government lifts its ban on the practice. However, the US Congress has been slow to respond to America’s rising hemp movement and an amendment to the 2014 farm bill signed by President Obama only allows hemp cultivation for research purposes.

On Monday, Maine officially nullified the federal government’s ban on commercial hemp farming in the state when the Maine Senate voted 27-6 to override Republican Governor Paul LePage’s veto of LD4, a GOP-sponsored bill that removes the requirement that farmers obtain federal approval from last year’s hemp farming legalization bill. The Senate vote follows Friday’s veto override effort by the Maine House of Representatives, which passed overwhelmingly by a vote of 135-6.

Governor LePage said in a May 8 statement defending his decision to veto the bill, “I simply cannot support inadvertently putting Maine’s hard working farmers at risk of violating federal criminal laws, which is the practical effect of this bill.” However, lawmakers in the state House and Senate were able to meet the 2/3 vote threshold necessary to override his veto.

Representative Deb Sanderson (R-Chelsea), one of the sponsors of the bill, told the Portland Press Herald, “We have people in this state who are ready to make capital investments – real investments – in this (hemp) industry, capital investments that will create jobs and inject money into this economy. All the pieces are in place with the people behind them, ready to go with the flip of a switch.

Tenth Amendment Center founder and executive director Michael Boldin wrote, “An amendment to the bill included an ’emergency clause,’ which bypasses the normal 90-day waiting period for a law to take effect. The bill notes that ‘farmers need adequate time to prepare for their upcoming growing seasons,’ and supporters wanted to make sure the process moved forward immediately.

Boldin continued, “Since the emergency clause was enacted, the new law goes into effect immediately. While there are some rules that will need to be created by the Department of Agriculture, the sponsors of LD4 expressly included in the measure that all will be ‘routine technical’ rather than ‘major substantive’ rules, and required the commissioner to issue them… Once this process is completed, it will be up to individuals and businesses in Maine to strike the final blow against federal bans on hemp farming. Should courageous farmers start growing industrial hemp without further authorization from Washington DC, the decades long prohibition will be effectively nullified in practice.

Midterm Elections Determine Marijuana Legalization in Several States

Among the issues decided by the ballots cast in Tuesday’s midterm elections, voters are determining the fate of marijuana legalization for recreational use in Alaska, Oregon, Washington D.C., and parts of Maine, and for medical use in Florida.

Yahoo News reported that ballot measures in Oregon and Alaska “would set up a network of regulated pot shops, similar to those already operating in Colorado and Washington State after twin landmark votes in 2012,” and that a measure in the District of Columbia “would allow possession but not retail sales.”

According to NBC News, “Most Americans support plans to legalize marijuana in theory,” and Tuesday’s election will show “a decision about the specific initiatives in Oregon and Alaska as a referendum on the success of those unfolding experiments in Colorado and Washington.

The Communication Director for the Marijuana Policy Project, Mason Tvert, said that his group, which is working to increase marijuana legalization among states in 2016, has high hopes for the midterm elections.

Win or lose, we expect to see more support and more dialogue about the issue than ever,” Tvert said.

According to Yahoo News, polls in Oregon “have shown a narrow majority favoring legal pot,” and polls in Alaska, “a Republican-leaning state with a libertarian streak,” have been inconsistent.

The Executive Director of the Drug Policy Alliance, Ethan Nadelmann, said that he is not worried about the outcome of the 2014 midterm elections, regarding marijuana legalization in Oregon.

If we lose in Oregon, it will shift the national frame a little bit. But it doesn’t change the strategy and it doesn’t change the tactics,” said Nadelmann. “A generation from now people will still step back and look at the prohibition of marijuana and say, what the heck was that about?”

Despite the narrow polls, Deborah Williams, the deputy treasurer of Alaska’s campaign for legalization, is confident.

We’re going to win,” said Williams. “It’s been a true grass roots campaign, pun intended, a true bipartisan, door to door effort, and our own polls show us 10 points ahead.

Yahoo News reported that the measure D.C., which would “allow adults 21 and over to possess up to 2 ounces of cannabis and grow up to six plants,” has been favored by a two-to-one margin.

Maine is following Washington D.C. in adding semi-legalization to the ballot. According to the Sun Herald, voters in the cities of South Portland and Lewiston “will vote on ballot initiatives that would legalize possession of marijuana.”

Tuesday’s elections will also determine whether Florida becomes the 24th state to legalize medical marijuana.

TIME reported that the campaign for legalization of medical marijuana “has drawn millions from big spenders on the left and right,” and has been “an issue splitting the gubernatorial candidates in a very close race.”

According to NBC News, although marijuana remains illegal under federal law, advocates argue that legalization is a “common sense policy,” due to the fact that it would “raise tax revenue, allow law enforcement to chase more serious crime, and undercut Mexico’s violent drug cartels.

Live coverage of the Elections will be provided on the homepage of Benswann.com, beginning at 4:00 pm edt.

Nurse in Maine defies quarantine, may take case to court

Kaci Hickox has defied her home quarantine Thursday morning by going for a bike ride, and she has said she might take her case to court if her quarantine is not lifted.

“I truly believe this policy is not scientifically nor constitutionally just, and so I am not going to sit around and be bullied around by politicians and be forced to stay in my home when I am not a risk to the American public,” Hickox said from her home in Maine on Today, according to the Raw Story.

Hickox was in West Africa recently to help treat Ebola patients.  After testing negative for the virus upon her return from West Africa, Hickox was released from quarantine in New Jersey but placed back in quarantine upon her return to her home in Maine.  She has been fighting her quarantine since her return and told reporters, according to NBC News, “I hope that we can continue negotiations and work this out amicably… There is no legal action against me, so I’m free to go on a bike ride in my hometown.”

It is not clear how the state of Maine will respond to Hickox’s ride just yet.  According to the New York Times, state officials said they might consider a court order to enforce the quarantine if Hickox left her home.

Gov. Paul LePage (R-Maine), said Wednesday, “While we certainly respect the rights of one individual, we must be vigilant in protecting 1.3 million Mainers, as well as anyone who visits our great state.”

Mary Mayhew, the Maine Health Commissioner, has said, according to CNN, she does not trust the information she has received concerning Hickox’s health status, saying the information lacks “reliability” and “trustworthiness.”

Mayhew also does not understand why Hickox is challenging the quarantine.  “(This is) a reasonable request to ensure — out of an abundance of caution — that we are protecting the people of this state,” said Mayhew.  

Hickox will continue to fight the quarantine though, saying she believes she has science, as well as the US Constitution, on her side.

Nurse Kaci Hickox Will Not Comply With Additional 21-Day Home Quarantine

Kaci Hickox, a nurse who was deemed at risk for carrying the Ebola virus and quarantined in a tent in New Jersey, is refusing to comply with an additional 21-day home quarantine at her residence in Maine and vowed to fight the quarantine policy in court if necessary.

Hickox returned to the United States last week after spending five weeks caring for Ebola patients in Sierra Leone. After arriving in New Jersey on last Friday, Hickox was isolated in a tent against her will at Newark’s University Hospital, although she tested negative for Ebola. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie defended the decision to mandate Hickox’s quarantine, saying “I don’t believe when you’re dealing with something as serious as this that we can count on a voluntary system. This is government’s job. If anything else, the government job is to protect safety and health of our citizens.”

Hickox has since returned to her home in Maine and said she will not abide by Maine’s quarantine policy, which is classified as voluntary although the state of Maine is prepared to enforce it.

Although Hickox said that she’s been exercising caution and avoiding contact with people, she has held to her reasoning that remaining in quarantine is “not scientifically nor constitutionally just.”

“You know, I don’t plan on sticking to the guidelines. I remain appalled by these home quarantine policies that have been forced upon me, even though I am in perfectly good health and feeling strong and have been this entire time completely symptom free. I’m thankful to be out of the tent in Newark, but I found myself in yet another prison, just in a different environment,” Hickox told Matt Lauer.

Lauer told Hickox about a statement from Maine’s Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew, which read that the state may “pursue legal authority if necessary to ensure risk is minimized for Mainers.”

Hickox maintained that “reasonable steps”, including self-monitoring measures like testing body temperature twice a day and undergoing testing upon appearance of symptoms, have been made by her and other health care workers. “These policies have worked in the past,” said Hickox.

When asked why she opposes quarantines, Hickox responded that “I truly believe this policy is not scientifically nor constitutionally just, and so I’m not going to sit around and be bullied around by politicians and be forced to stay in my home when I am not a risk to the American public.”

“Are you prepared to take legal action, not only against the state of New Jersey, but now the state of Maine if they decide to enforce this quarantine period?” asked Lauer.

“I’m not talking about New Jersey right now, but if the restrictions placed on me by the state of Maine are not lifted by Thursday morning, I will go to court to fight for my freedom,” Hickox replied.

Hickox’s attorney, Norman Seigel, added that the state of Maine has “no justification to quarantine Kaci” and echoed that they would challenge any court orders from Maine.

Judge Andrew Napolitano appeared on The Kelley File on Fox News Monday and said that it’s the responsibility of the government to prove that a person poses a public health risk. “We don’t have group guilt in America. We don’t have group punishment in America,” said Napolitano. “When the person confined challenges their confinement, the burden of proof, the obligation of demonstrating the propriety of the confinements, which is to the governments. And the government did not have any evidence with which to keep her confined once she challenged it.”

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Gun Tattoo Brings Armed State Troopers To Man’s Door

Norridgewock, ME- A Maine man was met with the State Police armed with assault rifles Tuesday morning after tree workers mistook the man’s gun tattoo for an actual weapon. Michael Smith, the man who was confronted by the troopers, had been sleeping when he was awoken by sounds of workers trimming tree limbs around power lines on his property. Smith works at night and was aggravated by the noise, so he yelled at the crew to get off of his property. The workers, who admitted that they were in Smith’s driveway, said that he told them to stop cutting the trees and they obliged.

gun tattoo2

But one of the workers noticed a tattoo of a gun on Smith, who was shirtless at the time of the disturbance. The worker mistook the tattoo for the real thing and called the police. A group of state troopers then arrived at Smith’s home armed with assault rifles and ordered him to come out of his house via megaphone. Smith was able to clarify that his tattoo was not an actual gun and he was not charged with anything.

The tattoo of the handgun on Smith is located on his stomach to look as if it’s tucked into his waistband, but it was found that he had no malicious intent. “Obviously it was a misunderstanding and he didn’t have a weapon, but we had to respond to the initial report as if he did,” Maine State Police Trooper Scott Duff said. “We take all precautions when we don’t have the details.”