Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s campaign is suing Maine’s secretary of state after she barred his team from collecting presidential nomination signatures inside polling stations during the March primary election.

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Robert F. Kennedy Jr., independent candidate for president. Hannah Schoenbaum/Associated Press

Kennedy, running as an independent, filed suit Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Bangor. Secretary of State Shenna Bellows confirmed Thursday that she has barred all presidential candidates from collecting signatures at the polls during presidential primary day because it would violate state law.

The civil complaint asserts that Bellows’ decision was an unconstitutional violation of the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment.

“The Maine Secretary of State, is out of control, exposing herself as a Democrat partisan hack, disinterested in the rule of law, basic constitutional protections, in favor of peacocking around as the lap dog of an incompetent, desperate, senile President,” the civil complaint states, adding that Bellows has enforced the law selectively.

Kennedy has until Aug. 1 to collect and submit 4,000 voter signatures to the secretary of state’s office to have his name included on the presidential ballot.

The filing states that town clerks had previously informed Kennedy’s campaign staff that they would be able to collect signatures inside polling locations during the March 5 presidential primary, the filing states.


But Bellows “suddenly” instructed town clerks across Maine on Feb. 12 to block campaigners from collecting presidential nomination signatures inside polling places, according to the filing.

State law prohibits a person from attempting to “influence another person’s decision regarding a candidate for an office or question that is on the ballot for the election that day” within 250 feet of a polling place.

“It’s important to recognize that it’s when a candidate’s office is on the ballot, that they cannot collect signatures because for good reason, Maine law prohibits political activities that influence a voter,” Bellows said in a statement. “That being said, when a candidate’s office is not on the ballot, they can absolutely collect signatures. There’s a statewide election in June. Certainly Mr. Kennedy can collect signatures then.”

Kennedy is not alone – Bellows is not allowing any presidential candidate to collect ballot signatures inside polling places on March 5, she said.

Team Kennedy, the plaintiff named in the lawsuit, said Bellows has violated the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment.

“It is beyond the laugh test to argue that the collection of ballot access petition signatures for independent and third-party presidential electors can in any way be properly interpreted as either influencing or attempting to influence the casting of votes for delegates to the national political party nominating conventions,” the filing states.

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