MAINE, USA — It may not be a presidential election year, but Mainers are encouraged to come out to the polls on Tuesday during Election Day 2021. It's an opportunity to practice democracy and exercise the right to vote on issues that have been igniting quite a bit of conversation the past few months.
Statewide referendum questions
On Tuesday, voters will see three questions on their state ballot:
- Question 1 is a citizen initiative to ban the construction of the Central Maine Power corridor and require a two-thirds majority vote in the Maine Legislature to approve high-impact electric transmission line projects.
- Question 2 is a $100,000,000 bond issue to build or improve things like roads, bridges, railroads, airports, transit facilities, and ports.
- Question 3 is a constitutional amendment to declare that all Maine citizens have the right to grow, raise, harvest, produce, and consume food of their choosing.
Question 1 has received the most attention. A "yes" vote means you want to ban the construction of this project and require that two-thirds majority vote in the state Legislature, while a "no" vote means you want to allow this project to continue and do not want to require that two-thirds majority vote moving forward.
The "Yes on 1" group is led by the "No CMP Corridor" political action committee and has raised more than $16.6 million. One of the PAC's biggest supporters is Mainers for Local Power, which is funded by energy companies with investments in Maine and New England.
The "No on 1" group is led by the Clean Energy Matters PAC. It has raised more than $55 million. Its biggest supporters are CMP, the New England Clean Energy Corridor, and parent company Avangrid.
"When you go to the polls, ask yourself, 'Are the pennies that we're going to get for tearing up our state so good for a foreign country -- which is Hydro-Quebec -- (to) make $41 million a month and a foreign business ... who owns Central Maine Power (to) make $5 million a month, as Maine acts as an extension cord for Massachusetts?'" asked Tom Saviello with the "Yes on 1" campaign during a forum earlier this month.
"The corridor will create and is already creating hundreds of good jobs. It will bring property tax relief to Lewiston and dozens of communities along the corridor. It will connect rural communities to broadband. It will help us meet our climate goals," said Thorn Dickinson with the "No on 1" campaign, also during that forum.
Question 1 is the most expensive referendum in our state's history.
Tips for voters
Before Mainers head to the polls today, Bangor City Clerk Lisa Goodwin has a few reminders for all voters to keep in mind.
Goodwin told NEWS CENTER Maine if voters still have to turn in their absentee ballots, they should be brought to a voting site before polls close at 8 p.m.
Also, experts say it's always good to look over a full sample ballot before you go out to vote, so you're fully aware of everything that's on it.
If you're not registered to vote, don't worry. Thanks to Maine's voting laws, you can still register in person at your polling place up until it closes.
“If [folks] need to register to vote or change their address, they should make sure they have the documentation to prove who they are,” said Goodwin.
The following documents are acceptable proof of identification for the purposes of registering to vote:
- Government document or credential with photo ID (i.e. driver’s license, State ID, valid U.S. Passport, military ID)
- Government ID document/credential without photo (i.e. certified birth certificate or signed Social Security card)
- An official document that shows the name and address of the voter (i.e., eligibility for public benefits, utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck)
- Student photo ID from a state-approved public or private school or institute of higher education in Maine
- Verified unique identifier (i.e. Maine driver’s license number or last four numbers of Social Security Number)
Portland shelter referendum
In Maine's largest city, one of the big issues this election cycle has been whether the city should limit the size of new emergency homeless shelters. Voters will see three different options on their ballots:
- Option A was proposed by the group Smaller Shelters for Portland and would limit the capacity of new emergency shelters to 50 beds. This ordinance would not apply to any shelters that already exist or shelters specifically for families and domestic violence victims.
- Option B is endorsed by the Portland City Council and would cap beds at 150. It would also include things like a provision for day space and proximity to public transportation.
- Option C rejects both other options. That means it would keep current limits as is by allowing officials to make decisions about capacity on a case-by-case basis.
Either option needs 50% of the vote plus one in order to win. If that doesn't happen for any option, then everything will stay as is.
"I can tell you from experience, smaller shelters are more humane and respectful and remember, these are people first. They need to be respected. They need to be treated properly," said Carolyn Silvius with Smaller Shelters for Portland, who was homeless a few years ago. She also has concerns that a big facility wouldn't have adequate staff to address the individualized needs of people.
"In the sense of a larger emergency shelter, we have all these folks who can come to one place. If we have smaller shelters, whether or not we have the staff from nonprofits and other organizations -- as well as the city of Portland being at each one of the small shelters when it comes to emergency shelter -- that's a question," said Mayor Kate Snyder.
At its November 1 meeting, the Portland City Council voted unanimously to sign leases for a 200-bed homeless services center in the Riverton neighborhood. At that meeting, Snyder said if there's overwhelming support for Option A at the polls, the council may reconsider that lease agreement.
In Bangor, voters will be choosing new city council and school committee members this Election Day.
In the race for Bangor City Council, seven people are running for three seats. The candidates are:
- Marlene Brochu
- James Butler
- Susan Hawes
- Joseph Leonard
- Free Martin
- Gretchen Schaefer
- Dina Yacoubagha
More information about each candidate can be found here.
The race for Bangor School Committee has five candidates running for two seats.
The candidates are:
- Eric Crawley
- Sara Luciano
- Imke Schessler-Jandreau
- Carrie Smith
- Benjamin Sprague
Details about the issues driving these school committee candidates to run can be found here.
More NEWS CENTER Maine stories.