Maine Voters to Decide on Eight Ballot Questions in Referendum Election

Introduction

On November 7, 2023, Maine will hold a referendum election where voters will decide the fate of eight statewide ballot measures. The eight referendum questions cover a range of issues, including debt, elections, utilities, foreign contributions, citizen petitions, and legislative powers. The referendum election is an important part of public participation in Maine, and voters are encouraged to educate themselves about each question before casting a ballot.

The Eight Referendum Questions

Question 1: Debt Limit for Quasi-Governmental Entities and Electric Utilities

Arguments for:

  • Greater accountability and transparency in government spending
  • Prevents entities from taking on excessive debt that could burden taxpayers
  • Ensures that major borrowing decisions are subject to public scrutiny

Arguments against:

  • Limits the flexibility of entities to respond to unforeseen needs or emergencies
  • Could hinder critical infrastructure projects or essential services
  • Adds an additional bureaucratic step that could delay important projects

Question 2: Paper Ballots and Ranked-Choice Voting

Arguments for:

  • Enhanced voter confidence and trust in election results
  • Increased voter engagement and participation
  • Provides more nuanced representation by allowing voters to express their preferences more fully

Arguments against:

  • Potential for increased costs associated with implementing and maintaining new voting systems
  • Concerns about voter confusion and potential errors in ranking candidates
  • May necessitate longer ballot processing times and could delay election results

Question 3: Pine Tree Power

Arguments for:

  • Greater accountability and local control over electricity infrastructure
  • Potential for lower electricity costs and improved customer service
  • Aligns with Maine’s commitment to renewable energy and clean power initiatives

Arguments against:

  • Concerns about the feasibility and cost of transitioning to a new public power entity
  • Potential for disruptions to electricity service during the transition period
  • Uncertainties about the future financial stability of Pine Tree Power

Question 4: Foreign Influence in Maine Elections

Arguments for:

  • Protects the integrity of Maine elections from foreign interference
  • Prevents foreign entities from influencing domestic political processes
  • Promotes transparency and accountability in campaign financing

Arguments against:

  • Could restrict the free flow of speech and political expression
  • May raise concerns about international relations and diplomatic ties
  • Could be challenged on constitutional grounds regarding free speech and association

Question 5: Extended Deadline for Citizen Petition Review

Arguments for:

  • Provides more time for petitioners to gather and verify signatures
  • Reduces the risk of technical errors or challenges invalidating petitions
  • Ensures that citizen initiatives have a fair opportunity to make the ballot

Arguments against:

  • Could delay the consideration and implementation of citizen-led initiatives
  • May create uncertainty and potential legal challenges due to the extended deadline
  • Could be seen as an attempt to make it more difficult for citizens to bring forward proposals

Question 6: Residency Requirement for Petition Circulators

Arguments for:

  • Broadens the pool of potential circulators and facilitates petition gathering
  • Allows for more diverse participation in the citizen initiative process
  • May improve the efficiency and effectiveness of signature-gathering efforts

Arguments against:

  • Raises concerns about the potential for out-of-state influence in Maine’s political process
  • May diminish the connection between petition circulators and the communities they are representing
  • Could be seen as an attempt to weaken the integrity of citizen initiatives

Question 7: Extended Legislative Adjournment

Arguments for:

  • Provides the Legislature with more flexibility in scheduling its work and addressing pressing issues
  • Reduces the need for costly and time-consuming special sessions
  • Allows for more effective legislative oversight and responsiveness to changing circumstances

Arguments against:

  • Raises concerns about the Legislature’s potential to avoid accountability or evade difficult issues
  • Could diminish the public’s ability to hold the Legislature accountable for its actions
  • May disrupt the legislative process and make it more difficult for constituents to engage with their representatives

Question 8: Legislative Special Sessions

Arguments for:

  • Provides the Legislature with greater autonomy and flexibility in addressing urgent matters
  • Allows for prompt action on issues that arise between scheduled legislative sessions
  • Enables the Legislature to respond more effectively to crises or emergencies
  • Enhances the Legislature’s oversight role and ability to hold the executive branch accountable

Arguments against:

  • Raises concerns about the Legislature potentially abusing its power to convene special sessions
  • May lead to increased costs and disruptions due to more frequent special sessions
  • Could undermine the Governor’s authority and create conflicts between the legislative and executive branches
  • May be unnecessary given the existing mechanism for calling special sessions through the Governor

Resources for Voters

The Citizen’s Guide to the 2023 Maine Referendum Election is a non-partisan resource that provides information about each question on the ballot, including the legislation, intent, significance of a “yes” or “no” vote, fiscal impact, and public comments.
The Maine League of Women Voters has created an online document explaining the eight questions on the ballot, which can be accessed at www.lwvme.org/ballotquestions.
Other resources available to voters include contacting their local Municipal Clerk or calling Maine’s Division of Elections at 207-624-7650.

How are ballot questions selected in maine?

In Maine, the selection of ballot questions involves a combination of citizen initiatives, legislative referrals, and constitutional amendments.

Citizen Initiatives:

  • Citizens can propose new laws or changes to existing laws by collecting signatures on a petition.
  • They submit the petition to the Secretary of State’s office.
  • If a sufficient number of valid signatures are collected, the proposal is placed on the ballot for voters to decide.

Legislative Referrals:

  • The Maine State Legislature has the authority to refer statewide ballot measures, which can be in the form of constitutional amendments or state statutes, to the ballot.
  • To refer a constitutional amendment to the ballot, each legislative chamber requires a two-thirds vote during one legislative session.

Constitutional Amendments:

  • Maine’s Constitution can be amended through a specific process.
  • This process involves a two-thirds vote in each legislative chamber during two consecutive legislative sessions.
  • Following this legislative approval, a majority vote of the people in a statewide referendum is necessary to amend the Constitution.

Once one of these methods selects a ballot question, it includes the question on the ballot for voters to decide during the election. To help voters make informed decisions, resources such as the Maine League of Women Voters and the Maine Citizen’s Guide to the Referendum Election provide information about the questions that will appear on the ballot.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Maine’s ballot questions play a vital role in shaping the state’s policies and governance. With eight diverse referendum questions covering issues from debt limits to electoral methods, Maine voters are entrusted with decisions that impact their lives. The process of selecting these questions involves citizen initiatives, legislative referrals, and constitutional amendments, reflecting a commitment to democratic participation. To make informed choices, voters can access valuable resources such as the Citizen’s Guide and the League of Women Voters. Maine’s referendum election on November 7, 2023, underscores the importance of citizen engagement and informed decision-making.Once one of these methods selects a ballot question, it includes the question on the ballot for voters to decide during the election.

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