Signature gatherers will be at the polls on Nov. 2 as part of their efforts to get initiatives on the ballot next year. Credit: Natalie Williams / BDN

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Rick Bennett of Oxford represents District 19 in the Maine Senate. He is a former president of the Maine Senate and former chair of the Maine Republican Party. Kyle Bailey of Gorham is a former state representative and is campaign manager for Protect Maine Elections.

Our elections should not be for sale to foreign governments or billionaire donors. Maine must belong to Mainers. The buying of our elections by foreign powers and billionaire donors is an urgent matter that must be addressed.

On Tuesday, you can help us to stop foreign governments and wealthy campaign contributors from buying our elections. Upon exiting your polling location on Election Day, please sign the petition that is being circulated by volunteers with Protect Maine Elections to place a question on the November 2022 statewide ballot to eliminate foreign influence and corruption in our elections.

Earlier this year, each of us introduced similar  bills in the Legislature to address concerns by Mainers about foreign interference in our elections. We worked with colleagues from both political parties and members of the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee to develop a bipartisan compromise bill that would address these serious and time-sensitive concerns.

This proposal passed both chambers of the Maine Legislature with support from Republican, Democratic and independent lawmakers.

Unfortunately, Gov. Janet Mills vetoed this common-sense legislation. In her veto letter, Mills dismissed this issue and argued in defense of unlimited and unchecked money in politics.

Foreign government interference in our elections is a threat to our republic and national security. Unlimited and unchecked spending in campaigns by corporations, special interests groups and wealthy donors diminishes the voices of Mainers.

Strong majorities of Maine Republicans, Democrats and independents agree with our bipartisan coalition of lawmakers and citizens. Mainers want action now to secure our elections.

Over the past several months, we have worked with citizens of all political stripes to file an initiative with the secretary of state’s office to bring this issue directly to Maine voters. We have also launched an organization, Protect Maine Elections, for the sole purpose of passing this groundbreaking initiative to eliminate foreign influence and corruption in campaigns.

Our citizen’s initiative will close the following loopholes in Maine’s campaign finance laws: Eliminate campaign spending by foreign governments in Maine elections, require media companies to report illegal spending by foreign governments, mandate disclosure by foreign governments on issue advertisements and back up Maine’s united call for an anti-corruption U.S. constitutional amendment to stop corporations, special interests and billionaires from buying Maine’s elections by charging our representatives in Congress with responsibility to get it passed and send it back to Maine for ratification.

We all have a responsibility to take action to protect our way of life and make our state and country a better place for our children and grandchildren. This is our opportunity to stand up for our republic, stand up to foreign powers and wealthy campaign donors and tell the nation and the world that Maine elections belong to Mainers.

You can help us place this urgent question on the ballot. Learn more at protectmaineelections.com.