June 24, 2018
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Petition to recall Old Orchard Beach councilors challenged

By Liz Gotthelf, Journal Tribune

OLD ORCHARD BEACH, Maine — A town resident has raised concerns that the recall petition she signed was collected by someone who was not a registered town voter. However, the chairwoman of the corresponding recall committee said that a registered town voter was present to witness all signatures taken.

In a written statement given to the town, resident Deedra Kelley said that she was approached by Dennis Graise outside the town’s post office on April 15 and asked to sign petitions to recall Councilors Bob Quinn, Michael Coleman and Robin Dayton.

She said Graise avoided her questions, but told her signing the petitions would only get the question on the ballot so anyone could vote on it. Kelley stated that she signed the petitions, after which Graise gave her an informational flyer from local group Taxpayers for Truth.

“There was no one else present to observe my signing,” she stated.

She said she later learned that Graise was not a resident or registered voter in Old Orchard Beach, which she said is required for her signature to be certified as valid under the town charter.

Under state law, a petition to recall a municipal official must be circulated or signed only by a registered voter of the municipality.

“I am making this affidavit because I have worked in state and municipal government and have served as a poll clerk, and am familiar with the voting process and requirements for petition circulators in our town, and I object to filing of any and all petitions collected by this individual and specifically to my signature on any petition submitted in favor of the recall of Councilors Dayton, Coleman or Quinn that may have been certified by anyone other than him,” she wrote.

Petition sheets signed by Kelley and other registered voters were signed on the bottom by Debbie MacDonald, sister of Town Councilor Sharri MacDonald, confirming that she had circulated the form and signatures were written in her presence.

Cari-Lynn Lane, chairwoman of the committee to recall Councilors Quinn, Dayton and Coleman, said in an email that Debbie MacDonald, a registered Old Orchard Beach voter, witnessed signatures collected by Graise.

“We had to have a witness with Dennis at all times,” she said. “Not every signer knew there were other people in Dennis’ presence.”

Town attorney Rob Crawford wrote in an email to Town Clerk Kim McLaughlin that she and her office, in administering the petition process, did not have the authority to determine if activities taken place and assertions and issues raised outside her purview are truthful or not. Crawford said likewise, no other office or town government official has the authority either.

“As a result, I conclude that if someone wants to challenge the validity of the petitions based on irregularities in the circulation process, they will have to seek redress through the courts,” wrote Crawford.

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