Pubdate: Wed, 8 Nov 2000
Source: Worcester Telegram & Gazette (MA)
Copyright: 2000 Worcester Telegram & Gazette
Contact:  P.O. Box 15012, Worcester, MA 01615-0012
Fax: (508) 793-9313
Author: George Barnes


TEMPLETON-- Legalization of marijuana, which was not even on the ballot,
caused the biggest stir at one polling place yesterday. Raymond E.
Brouillet, 44, of 206 Otter River Road, was arrested around 10 a.m. outside
Scout Hall in East Templeton, the Precinct A polling place, after he
refused to take down his sign or move 150 feet from the building. His sign
promoted legalization of marijuana, a matter that was not among the eight
ballot questions. He was charged with being a disorderly person and
disturbing the peace. At his arraignment in Gardner District Court, Mr.
Brouillet demanded to know the jurisdiction of the court.

When he was not given an answer, he refused to sign paperwork releasing him
on personal recognizance. After debating with a court officer, he was
released anyway. Later, Mr. Brouillet said he was arrested after arguing
with police and an election official that he had a constitutional right to
stand closer to the polling place because the issue of marijuana was not on
the ballot. He said he was arrested only because he was defending his
rights. Town Clerk Sheila R. Tallman said she had heard that Mr. Brouillet
was too close to the polling place and went to investigate. "I saw he was
within 150 feet carrying a sign and I just asked him to move a little
further away," she said. "He then brought out a tape recorder and started
asking me questions. I said, 'I'm just asking you to move a little further
away.' He said he wasn't going to."

Mrs. Tallman said she then called the police. Police said they did not
arrest Mr. Brouillet for violating polling place law, but rather because of
what he did when they asked him to move. Mrs. Tallman said state law
prohibits anyone from soliciting votes for a candidate or ballot question
within 150 feet of a polling place.

She said that though legalization of marijuana was not on the ballot, she
was concerned that some voters might have viewed his sign as promoting
Question 8. Question 8 sought to expand the state's drug treatment program
by redirecting drug forfeiture money from law enforcement agencies. Mrs.
Tallman said several other signs promoting candidates and issues were
posted near the polling place yesterday, but were beyond 150 feet. Mr.
Brouillet is due back in court Dec. 15 for a pretrial hearing.
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