AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine voters are getting a better picture of the November referendum election. Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows held a question order lottery for the November election at her office in the Nash School building in Augusta on Thursday morning.
The lottery determined the ballot order for eight questions. This complies with Maine law, which states questions must be in a random order, selected through a public process. The citizens’ referendum questions must appear before changes to the Constitution of Maine.
"We wanted to make sure that, that process was as transparent and open as possible," Bellows said.
On Thursday, the order of the initiatives as they will appear on the ballot in November this year was decided as follows, according to a news release from Bellows' office:
- "QUESTION 1: An Act to Require Voter Approval of Certain Borrowing by Government-controlled Entities and Utilities and to Provide Voters More Information Regarding That Borrowing. Do you want to bar some quasi-governmental entities and all consumer-owned electric utilities from taking on more than $1 billion in debt unless they get statewide voter approval?
- QUESTION 2: An Act to Prohibit Campaign Spending by Foreign Governments and Promote an Anticorruption Amendment to the United States Constitution. Do you want to ban foreign governments and entities that they own, control, or influence from making campaign contributions or financing communications for or against candidates or ballot questions?
- QUESTION 3: An Act to Create the Pine Tree Power Company, a Nonprofit, Customer-owned Utility. Do you want to create a new power company governed by an elected board to acquire and operate existing for-profit electricity transmission and distribution facilities in Maine?
- QUESTION 4: An Act Regarding Automotive Right to Repair. Do you want to require vehicle manufacturers to standardize on-board diagnostic systems and provide remote access to those systems and mechanical data to owners and independent repair facilities?
- QUESTION 5: RESOLUTION, Proposing an Amendment to the Constitution of Maine Regarding the Timing of Judicial Review of the Determination of the Validity of Written Petitions. Do you favor amending the Constitution of Maine to change the time period for judicial review of the validity of written petitions from within 100 days from the date of filing to within 100 business days from the date of filing of a written petition in the office of the Secretary of State, with an exception for petitions filed within 30 calendar days before or after a general election?
- QUESTION 6: RESOLUTION, Proposing an Amendment to the Constitution of Maine to Require All Provisions in the Constitution to Be Included in the Official Printing. Do you favor amending the Constitution of Maine to require that all of the provisions of the Constitution be included in the official printed copies of the Constitution prepared by the Secretary of State?
- QUESTION 7: RESOLUTION, Proposing an Amendment to the Constitution of Maine to Align the Proceedings for Circulating Written Petitions for People's Vetoes and Direct Initiatives with Federal Law. Do you favor amending the Constitution of Maine to remove a provision requiring a circulator of a citizen's initiative or people's veto petition to be a resident of Maine and a registered voter in Maine, requirements that have been ruled unconstitutional in federal court?
- QUESTION 8: RESOLUTION, Proposing an Amendment to the Constitution of Maine to Allow Persons Under Guardianship for Mental Illness to Be Electors. Do you favor amending the Constitution of Maine to remove a provision prohibiting a person under guardianship for reasons of mental illness from voting for Governor, Senators and Representatives, which the United States District Court for the District of Maine found violates the United States Constitution and federal law?"
Bellows said her office will be working to put together a referendum election voter guide ahead of election day. She said voters can expect that information online around September.
Voters in some communities, Bellows added, may have additional votes to cast on their ballots as some municipalities will hold special elections.
Last fall, Maine voters turned out to vote at a higher rate than voters in any other state. State data shows a 61.8 percent turnout of citizens of voting age population in 2022. The data also shows Maine increased turnout by 1.2 percent from the last gubernatorial election year, while turnout decreased in most states between the 2018 and 2022 elections.
Bellows expects a similarly high turnout this fall.
With regard to Question 3, spokespeople for Pine Tree Power and the Maine Affordable Energy Coalition weighed in on what it could mean for Maine voters.
“Mainers have the opportunity to vote out CMP and Versant this November 7 by voting yes on Question 3,” Al Cleveland, campaign manager of Pine Tree Power said in a statement. “With Pine Tree Power, we will increase the reliability of our electric grid, save Mainers money, and build a power company that is controlled by Mainers.”
Meanwhile, Executive Director of the Maine Affordable Energy Coalition Willy Ritch said in a statement:
“Question 3 is the most expensive referendum proposal Maines have ever faced. If it passes we will be saddled with over $13 billion in debt—nearly three times the entire state budget—and politicians will be put in charge of maintaining the state’s electric grid. We are all going to be on the hook for that debt—and that could lead to higher property taxes or cuts to essential services like first responders or schools. Pine Tree Power is a risky scheme that would put our state and everyone of us in debt."
The referendum election is slated for Nov. 7.