Former independent candidate helps influence Maine election laws

The following is an email from Herbert Hoffman, who ran as an independent (and then as a write-in) candidate for US Senate in Maine in 2008:

An amended version of LD 1169, An Act to Amend the Election Laws, was signed into law by Governor Baldacci on Thursday, June 4.  This Act incorporates the major features of LD 547, An Act to Amend the Laws Concerning Write-In Candidates for Elected Offices to Increase Fairness, filed at my request by Senator Peter Bowman (D-Kittery).

In the future Declared write-in candidates will have a more level and fair playing field in relation to ballot candidates as a result of these new provisions in the law:

Requires write-in candidates to declare 45 days in advance of

an election. This date coincides with the availability of absentee

The requirement for including the municipality of residence of a

Declared write-in candidate is eliminated.

Requires the names of and offices sought by Declared write-in

candidates to be posted at all polling locations along side the
Sample Ballots.

Requires the Secretary of State’s Return of Votes Cast form to list

the names of all candidates, including Declared write-in
These new requirements in addition to facilitating greater visability for write-ins will make it more likely that votes for Declared write-ins will be counted and reported to the Secretary of State. This will help correct a serious flaw in the 2008 election in which a large number of votes for Declared write-in candidates were not counted, recorded and/or reported to the State.  Further, it will help to ensure that early voters will be aware of Declared write-in candidates.

Another significant feature of the new law, one which I did not endorse, relates to how signatures for petitions are gathered.  As a consequence of the challenge to my petitions made by John Knutson, Chair of the Maine Democratic Party, the requirement for circulators of petitions has been changed from “signatures to the petition were made in the circulator’s presence” to “the circulator personally witnessed all of the signatures.” This change codifies the definition of “presence” advanced by the Democratic Party and subsequently adopted by the Secretary of State.  Ultimately, the Maine Supreme Court’s decision, which resulted in my removal from the ballot, hinged on the retroactive application of a standard and practice that did not exist prior to the challenge.  Thus, it is likely that I will hold the dubious distinction of being the first and only candidate whose more than 4000 qualified voters’ signatures were voided on the basis of the retroactive application of a standard that is now part of state law.

I am pleased that my efforts, along with those of Senator Bowman and other supporters of LD 547, have resulted in a significant improvement in Maine’s election laws.  There are many positive results that have come about due to the Hoffman for Senate campaign and the changes to election law as it relates to Declared write-in candidates are concrete examples.

Herbert J. Hoffman

4 thoughts on “Former independent candidate helps influence Maine election laws

  1. Donald Raymond Lake

    Not in love with the Maine Greens, as stained by 2004 Green VP sabotaging candidate Susan LaMarshe, but the Maine alternative types are ‘aces’ in their on going resolve!

  2. Forrie Everett

    Can an Idom be changed on a ballot? and if so must it be done 3o days before the election?? please halp me thank you Forrie Everett

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