Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows speaks to reporters outside the polls in Portland on Election Day, Tuesday Nov. 2, 2021. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN

AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine’s top election official has sent a cease-and-desist letter to No Labels over petition tactics that could confuse voters into enrolling in the political party while mistakenly thinking they’re signing a petition.

No Labels, which is seeking to establish itself as a party in all 50 states, was warned by Secretary of State Shenna Bellows, a Democrat, that many voters expressed dismay upon learning that they enrolled in the party after signing the petition. Her office sent letters to more than 6,000 voters who registered with the No Labels party to ensure they intended to do so.

“We were concerned after hearing reports of dozens of voters alleging they were unaware they had been enrolled in the No Labels Party and are working to ensure every voter understands their rights,” she said Friday in a statement.

No Labels said Thursday that its petition circulators were instructed to make it crystal clear to people who signed the petition that they were changing their party affiliation.

“I have been involved in voter access and registration drives for decades and suggesting that a majority of Maine voters who signed up with No Labels did not know what they were doing is not true,” said Benjamin Franklin Chavis Jr, No Labels national co-chair, noting that the petition process will continue.

No Labels started as a centrist organization dedicated to promoting candidates with its values, but it is now trying to get on the ballot in as many states as possible ahead of the 2024 election. To qualify for the 2024 primary ballot in Maine, new parties must enroll 5,000 voters by Jan. 2, election officials said.