By Linda Lord
The public hearing for LD 1574 (An Act to Protect Maine Voters from Intimidating Video Taping at Polls) was held before the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee on Feb. 8, 2016.
The bill’s sponsor, Senator Bill Diamond, presented the background for this bill. In the last state-wide election enough people reported feeling annoyed, threatened, uncomfortable and intimidated by videotaping. Voters complained about people getting too close while video taping and violating personal space.
Senator Diamond pointed out the fine balance between the rights of the video tapers and the right to vote unimpeded. Now that video taping at the polls has started, the Senator feels it will spread widely in Nov. 2016 with the presidential election and the number of referenda that Maine citizens will be voting on.
One Committee member commented that video taping is a very narrow term (who makes video tapes anymore?), and it was suggested that the wording be changed to “video recording.”
Another Committee member commented that some small towns do not have 15 feet outside the barrier – or even 15 feet of clearance in any direction from where the signature tables are set up. If signature gatherers are positioned outside the polling place, these protections would not apply.
Supporters testifying in support of the bill were; Julie Flynn, Deputy Secretary of State; Matthew Dunlap, Secretary of State; and Jeff Hermon of the Maine Municipal Association. Testimony here.
Avery Day, Chief Legal Counsel in the Governor’s office, submitted written testimony against the bill.
No one testified neither-for-nor-against.
Questions from the Committee included areas of enforcement, need for this legislation, and the 15 feet issue mentioned above.