Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap has reaffirmed his decision that a petition drive backed by the Maine Republican Party to put a ranked-choice voting referendum question on the Nov. 3 ballot failed to gain enough valid voter signatures.

Dunlap issued an “amended determination” late Wednesday that summarized his review of a ruling he made in July that the petition came up short of the 63,067 valid signatures needed to gain a spot on the statewide ballot. The affirmation will now be considered by a Cumberland County Superior Court judge, who ordered Dunlap to review his earlier decision in response to a lawsuit filed by the state GOP.

During the review, Dunlap considered sworn affidavits and other documents submitted as part of the lawsuit. He accepted some voter signatures that had previously been rejected, but he also invalidated some that had previously been accepted.

In all, Dunlap rejected 11,299 signatures, leaving the petition 1,775 signatures shy of the minimum needed under Maine law – 10 percent of the number of voters casting ballots in the most recent gubernatorial election.

Some of the signatures were rejected because they were not of registered voters, and others because those who gathered them failed to follow requirements spelled out in state law for notarizing petitions and submitting them to municipal clerks, Dunlap said in the review document.

Maine Republican Party Chair Dr. Demi Kouzounas said in a statement that Dunlap had rejected clear and factual legal arguments by the party’s lawyers.

“While we are disappointed by Matt Dunlap’s decision, it is important to note that this decision is subject to review in court, and we believe we will prevail when the courts consider our arguments in full,” Kouzounas said.

The party and its supporters were hoping to convince voters in November to repeal a new law passed by the Legislature in 2019 that extends the ranked-choice system to presidential primaries and presidential elections in Maine.

 

 

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