For Immediate Release Tuesday, January 5, 2016
For legal inquiries, please contact Libertarian of Maine’s attorney, John H. Branson of Branson Law Office, at 207-780-8611.
To schedule an interview, contact LPME state chair Jorge Maderal at: JMaderal at Hotmail dot com.
A new law passed by the Maine Legislature in 2013 gave Libertarians a way to qualify as an officially recognized political party in the state, by enrolling 5,000 Maine voters in the Party. It set a very early deadline of December 1 of the year before elections. This requires that all enrollments be secured during an odd-numbered year, when the public’s attention to and enthusiasm for the political process is historically lowest.
Courts have struck downearly deadlinesfor ballot qualification as unconstitutionalin at least ten other states. Their deadlines were not as early asMaine’s.
What’s worse, the law gives town clerks just five days after the deadline to process the registrations. This short window is grossly inadequate, given that clerks often need to send notices to voters to clarify information on their registration forms, to which they have fifteen days to respond.
Burdened by these restrictions, Maine Libertarians nonetheless turned in 6,482 registrations signed by votersacross the state, by the December 1 deadline.
Town clerks failed to process all the registrations by their deadline, in one case because the town of Lewiston had a runoff election which took up time for election personnel. The town could have hired temps, as many election boards do in other states, to take up the slack. They refused.
Of the 6,482 enrollment formssubmitted, the Secretary of State recognized only 4,513 valid enrollments, and thereby disqualified the LPME from nominating candidates or otherwise participating in the 2016 primary election.
‘We checked all 6,482 voter registrations for completeness before we turned them in as thoroughly as we could with the information we had available to us,’ said Jorge Maderal, LP Maine state chair. ‘We have been unable to get the state to tell us why almost 2,000 voter registrations were rejected.’
The LP is fighting back. With the support of the national Libertarian Party, on January 4 the LPME and six of its members filed a lawsuit against the state, challenging not only the actions of the Secretary in wrongly disqualifying the LPME, but Maine’s early deadline and other severe and unnecessary burdens on the party and its members.