AUGUSTA – A controversial ballot question campaign that hopes to ask voters to approve a third casino for Maine in York County turned in an estimated 68,000 voter signatures to Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap on Monday.

Dunlap’s office now has 30 days to review and validate the signatures – some of which have been the source of growing concern that some of the organizations pushing ballot questions are being fueled by out-of-state money and employing questionable signature-gathering methods.

Meanwhile, some of the nonresident signature collectors have complained that the people who hired them haven’t come through on a promise to pay between $7 and $10 a signature.

Those behind the signature drive and the casino effort have, so far, declined comment.

On Monday Dunlap said his office would now review all the signatures for irregularities or errors. Town and city clerks have already validated the signatures, but Dunlap said that on occasion the Secretary of State’s Office will reject a ballot petition if enough signatures are invalidated.

With just 7,000 more signatures than what the campaign needs, the group “doesn’t have a very wide margin for error,” Dunlap said.

Also turning in signatures on Monday was a group seeking to legalize marijuana for recreational use and another hoping to increase taxes on Maine’s highest wage earners as a means to increase public school funding.

In all, voters could face five ballot questions in November on the casino, marijuana, school funding, ranked-choice voting and universal background checks for all gun sales in Maine.

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