The leader of the leader of the marijuana legalization campaign says the group will appeal to state election officials’ decision after more than 17,000 signatures from single notary were invalidated because the notary’s signature did not match the signatures on file.
Supporters of a voter initiative for marijuana legalization in the state of Maine, failed to collect enough valid signatures to qualify for the state ballot.
Petition gatherers for the initiative delivered 51,543 valid signatures – about 9,500 below the threshold, according to the Maine Secretary of State office on Wednesday. However, he office found 47,686 invalid signatures.
Wednesday was the deadline for the Secretary of State office to validate the signatures. After a casino proposal was denied, and a school funding measure was approved, the failure of the marijuana initiative was the biggest surprise of the day. On February 1, the marijuana campaign had delivered more than 99,000 signatures.
Manager of the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, David Boyer, said documents provided by the Secretary of State’s office indicate that more than 17,000 signatures from a single notary were invalidated because the notary’s signature did match the signatures on file.
“We will look at all the options to challenge this,” he said. “We don’t want 17,000 people to be disenfranchised because of a handwriting technicality.”
Rep. Diane Russel, D-Portland,a supporter, said the group will appeal because people deserve a chance to vote on the issue.
She said, “This is about voting rights at its fundamental core, not legalization.”
The campaign now has 10 days to appeal.