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Lisa Savage's Green campaign for US Senate to take independent route to ballot

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Monday February 24, 2020

For more info: Sam Pfeifle Phone: 207-749-0298 Email: sam@lisaformaine.org Twitter: @SamPfeifle

This week, Lisa Savage’s Green campaign for U.S. Senate has decided to qualify for the ballot as an independent. Unfortunately, the ballot access barriers enacted by the establishment parties create disproportional expense and difficulty for grassroots alternatives like the Green Party. While Savage continues to represent the Green Party’s vision of an independent, non-corporate movement for people, planet, and peace, she will formally unenroll from the Maine Green Independent Party in order to take this far less onerous route to qualify for the ballot.

However, Savage said, “I will be seeking endorsement by the Maine Green Independent Party, and my platform remains as Green as ever.”

“At no point in our campaign for ballot access have we met resistance to our message,” Savage continued. “Virtually every voter we’ve talked to has readily agreed that we need to radically reduce the defense budget, implement Medicare for all, and cancel student debt and make public higher education free for anyone who wants it. However, if they want to vote for Bernie in the primary, they can’t sign our petition. If they value their status as independent, unenrolled voters, they can’t sign our petition. And the 43,000 Greens around the state may be eager to sign, but the geographic and weather barriers to getting petitioners to their doors are incredibly time- and resource-intensive.”

Especially given the new reality of ranked choice voting, the ballot access laws are archaic and should be changed, Savage argued. “We were being forced to get signatures from 5% of all Greens in the state,” she said. “That would equal 15,000 signatures for the Democrats or Republicans.” 

“We have no shortage of volunteers,” Savage continued. “We have no shortage of money. But we have a shortage of time and a nearly Sisyphean operational task, more difficult than that faced by any other campaign.” Indeed, the Lisa for Maine campaign has already raised more money from more individual donors than any campaign in Maine Green Independent Party history. But even that isn’t enough to overcome a signature-collection requirement the major parties have revised multiple times to make more onerous for third parties. 

Qualifying as an independent means the Savage campaign will now have until June 1 to acquire 4,000 signatures from voters registered in any party and those currently unenrolled.

The new push for ballot access will begin in earnest with the “Super Tuesday” primary election on March 3. Volunteers and paid staff will fan out across the state to collect signatures at the polls, a move made necessary by the major-party change of laws that changed caucuses to primaries and then relocated the primary on the calendar, directly in the middle of the short 10-week window of opportunity for party campaigns to gather signatures for ballot access. 

While previously sympathetic voters might have been willing to switch party affiliation to sign the Green petition, then switch back with time to participate in a caucus, that is no longer possible. Further, the processing of registrations is slowed -- even halted -- by the Secretary of State’s office as they work to administer the primaries in conjunction with the major parties. 

Secretary of State Matt Dunlap told the Bangor Daily News that moving to presidential primaries produced an “unforeseen consequence” for third parties. “I think it’s just circumstantial, not intentional,” he said, “but it does make it much harder for a statewide third-party candidate.”

Savage is determined to get on the ballot, however, in order to ensure there is a voice on the ballot that actually represents what the people of Maine desperately want and need in Washington. 

“The people of Maine don’t want to spend 60 cents of every tax dollar on war,” Savage said. “The people of Maine don’t want to spend half their day worrying about how they’re going to afford health care or a decent education. The people of Maine don’t want more tax breaks for wealthy corporations while the planet burns. We have a crisis on our hands -- of public health, of radically changing climate, of complete loss of trust in our public institutions -- and electing the same old Democrats and Republicans isn’t going to fix that. We need a new voice, an independent voice, to speak for the people of Maine, unbought by corporate money. 

“I want to be that voice,” Savage said. “I will be that voice.”

Find information about Lisa’s background, her policy positions, and where to donate to her people-powered campaign at www.LisaforMaine.org

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