Secretary Of State: Maine Voters Say They Were Lied To In Vaccination Petition Effort

Sep 24, 2019

Maine’s secretary of state's office says it's fielding some complaints from people 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.

In this March 27, 2019, file photo, measles, mumps and rubella vaccines are seen in a cooler at the Rockland County Health Department in Pomona, N.Y.
Credit Seth Wenig / Associated Press file

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 says several voters say people gathering signatures misrepresented the document.

“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 says.

Dunlap says 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 says.

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 says. "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."

Sacks says that given the number of signatures collected some complaints and confusion can be expected. But she says it was never the campaign's intention to mislead anyone. 

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

Originally published Sept. 23, 2019 at 12:53 p.m. ET.