Supporters of a bill that would put some distance between voters and videographers monitoring referendum signature-gathering said Monday that the proposal is a modest step to address an activity that could one day escalate into fistfights or discourage election participation. The proposal by Sen. Bill Diamond, D-Windham, is a response to several complaints last Election Day of gun rights activists videotaping – and in some cases confronting – voters signing a petition to stiffen background checks on gun sales. Diamond, a former Maine secretary of state, said he was disturbed by the reports and is worried that the issue could “mushroom,” leading to conflicts at the ballot box. “What we don’t need is to have fistfights at polling places or videotapers videotaping vidoetapers,” Diamond said.
Diamond’s bill would not prohibit videotaping at polling places, although a top election official said Monday that the state could legally pursue an outright ban. Instead, the bill establishes a 15-foot setback between a videographer and a voting booth. The buffer would also apply to a videographer and the area where referendum petition circulators solicit signatures.
Deputy Secretary of State Julie Flynn said Maine law does not address filming at polling locations, prohibiting only activity that obstructs the free passage of voters or creates a disturbance. She said her office had never dealt with the practice until last year, when it began fielding complaints from voters, petition circulators and election wardens.
Full Article: Supporters say limits on videotaping at Maine polling places are needed to avoid conflict – The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram.