Maine U.S. Senate candidate Max Linn delivers 1,400 extra signatures in June to the Maine Secretary of State’s Office to insulate himself from any challenge to the first round of paperwork he delivered. Contributed photo by Max Linn

A challenge to petitions filed by independent U.S. Senate candidate Max Linn is unlikely to prevent him from being on the Nov. 3 general election ballot.

Former state Sen. Mary Small of Bath, a Republican, objected late Thursday to 711 of the signatures gathered in a bid to put Linn on the ballot, claiming that if they were thrown out he would lack the 4,000 required by law.

Linn, however, wound up handing in about 6,000 signatures, well over the margin he would need even if the Secretary of State’s Office agreed to reject each of the ones Small questioned in her eight-page, detailed complaint.

Small is a longtime ally of U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, a four-term Maine Republican, who is running for re-election in what is expected to be one of the costliest, closest elections in the country this year.

Linn, who aligns himself with President Donald Trump, poses a threat of siphoning off some conservative votes that Collins may need to come out on top in a race that will also include a Democrat and at least one more independent, Lisa Savage of Solon, a Maine Green Independent Party stalwart.

It appears that Small, who could not be reached, was unaware that Linn handed in a second round of signatures in June that added about 1,400 more to the tally he’d already compiled, a move he made to provide a cushion in case someone challenged him.

“My campaign team and I are not surprised by this challenge as we know that the entrenched establishment fears the disruption of open and honest democracy,” Linn said in a prepared statement. “I know that the folks in the Secretary of State’s Office will handle this matter professionally and thoroughly and I look forward to being on the ballot in November. ”

Matt McDonald, Linn’s senior campaign advisor, said the Washington-based GOP officials behind the challenge effort were out of the loop.

This is a Google map submitted as part of a challenge to Max Linn’s signatures to earn a spot as an independent on the Nov. 3 ballot. It asserts nobody could have gone so far in one day to get so many signatures, but Linn’s campaign said the names were collected at gun shows, not at signers’ homes.

What’s more, the challenge by Small complained that many of the signatures gathered could not have been collected on the same day because the signers lived all over the state.

Complete with Google maps showing the impossibility, the complaint said that “certain circulators for Max Linn’s petition for candidacy show suspect behavior through their travels and signature gathering.”

“Multiple days in a row consist of a circulator traveling through more than five counties at a time. Traveling through a high number of counties and towns is timely and spending over nine hours driving to collect a mere 12 signatures is unrealistic,” it said.

McDonald laughed at the assertion.

He said the circulators didn’t even travel 15 feet.

They were at gun shows in Waterville, Bangor and elsewhere, he said, and the people who signed simply walked up to their table.

“When they filed this thing, they didn’t use their brightest,” McDonald said. “It’s just preposterous.”

Attorney George Marcus asked the Secretary of State’s Office Friday to waive the normal challenge requirements given the work that would have to be done during a pandemic to check everything over.

He asked the Bureau of Elections instead to verify the necessary signatures and declare Linn a qualified candidate by July 17.

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