not petitioners

The Jan. 4 newspaper reported that activists are against banning citizen initiative signature gathering at the polls (“Opponents say polling place signature ban unconstitutional”). Apparently, Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap and others have proposed banning people gathering signatures to adopt citizen initiative measures at polling places during elections. Those who want the law are quite vocal about their desires to oppose volunteers from gathering those signatures. Their main reason for this proposed law is that often, paid, out-of-state workers are gathering the signatures.

Let me tell you that I have collected signatures at the polls on a few occasions. I was never paid and I am a resident of the town where signatures were collected. The reason I did this was because I believed in the causes for which the signatures were collected. It is my constitutional right to petition the government for redress of my grievances.

What bothers me most is that the same people who do not want me to collect signatures at the polls are not even questioning the highly paid lobbyists that fill the halls of our State House. They are even given a permanent space in the lobby between the Senate and the House of Representatives from which to coordinate their efforts. I have watched these lobbyists in action at many public hearings. They dominate the sessions. These are highly trained and highly paid operatives often from prestigious law and lobby firms. Many had even come through the revolving door of being past senators and representatives themselves.

Face it folks. Maine’s law permits citizen initiatives. This being one of the purest forms of democracy. To try to stop or in any way hinder this right would be against Maine’s constitution.

Peter P. Sirois

Madison