October 23, 2019
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Secretary of state: Maine voters say they were lied to in vaccination petition effort

Robert F. Bukaty | AP
Robert F. Bukaty | AP
Cara Sacks, co-chair of Mainers for Health and Parental Rights, speaks at a news conference before her group delivered petitions to the Maine secretary of state's office, Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019, in Augusta, Maine. The group says they gathered more than 92,000 signatures in support of the people's veto of government-mandated vaccine bill.

Maine’s secretary of state says he’s heard from a high number of voters who felt they were lied to so they would sign a petition in support of a people’s veto to strike down Maine’s vaccination requirements.

Mainers for Health and Parental Rights circulated a petition this summer that aims to repeal a law requiring all students attending Maine schools to be vaccinated unless medically exempt.

Secretary of State Matt Dunlap said several voters say people gathering signatures misrepresented the document.

[Challenge to Maine vaccine law likely to make March ballot as other people’s veto bids fall short]

“Most commonly what people are complaining about is that they were told by circulators that this would help them preserve choice about whether they would use vaccinations or not. Or that this would preserve the vaccination law, which is actually the diametric opposite of what the veto is intended to do,” he said.

Dunlap said state law mandates intended changes to a law be attached to the petition so signees can review them. There are no laws limiting what can be said to gather signatures.

“The law requires that the language of the statue that is proposed either to be initiated or to be vetoed has to be appended to the petition form itself. And that gives the voter the opportunity to sign it. Whether or not they sign it is their decision,” he said.

Cara Sacks of the group behind the petition says signature gatherers “simply asked voters to sign a petition to allow the citizens of Maine to vote on the issue of government-mandated vaccines.

“This is clearly being pushed by our opponents because they can’t handle the fact that Maine voters will get to weigh-in on this law pushed through our legislature by Big Pharma,” she said. “It’s clear Maine voters want to reject this punitive, regressive and Draconian law. We have the utmost faith in the Secretary of State to verify our 93,000 signatures.”

The secretary of state is working to verify whether enough signatures were gathered to place the issue on the November ballot.

This article appears through a media partnership with Maine Public.

 



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