In this June 30, 2021, file photo, protesters attend a news conference to show their support for overriding Gov. Janet Mills' veto of a bill that would have banned entities owned by foreign governments from influencing Maine elections at the State House in Augusta. Credit: Robert F. Bukaty / AP

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Shortly after I enlisted in the Navy, my ship, the USS Kearsarge, deployed to the Persian Gulf with six other ships and 10,000 Marines for Operation Iraqi Freedom. We went to war.

I enlisted for many reasons, including a sense of duty and a commitment to country. I believe that our democracy is worth fighting for.

Imagine my surprise to learn that current election law in Maine leaves our democracy vulnerable to foreign government interference. Right now, foreign governments are permitted to spend millions of dollars in Maine referendum elections. Should Russia be permitted to influence our elections? Should China? Should any foreign country? Surely the answer is no.

Fortunately, a bipartisan coalition of Maine voters have been working diligently on the  Protect Maine Elections citizen’s initiative, which would close the loophole that currently allows this foreign government interference in our elections. The initiative now sits with the Legislature, which has the opportunity to pass the bill outright or send it to the voters on the November 2023 ballot.

Our leaders in Augusta have an obligation to protect our democracy. Please join me in asking our legislators to pass An Act To Prohibit Campaign Spending by Foreign Governments and Promote an Anticorruption Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Alicia Barnes