AP NEWS

Maine voters approve bonds, constitutional amendment

November 6, 2019 GMT

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Maine voters on Tuesday approved a $105 million transportation bond package and a constitutional amendment aimed at ensuring disabled residents who are unable to sign their names can support citizens’ initiatives and people’s veto petitions.

Voters approved both measures on the statewide ballot.

The bond proposal will be matched by $137 million in federal and other funds. Most of the money will be directed toward the overhaul and replacement of highways and bridges. Money also will go to railroads, ports and aviation projects, among others.

Democratic Gov. Janet Mills and Transportation Commissioner Bruce Van Note both supported the bonds. Mills called it a bipartisan issue that’s “critically important.”

“We don’t drive on Democratic or Republican roads, but our roads are in dire need of repair and reconstruction,” Mills said before the election.

The constitutional amendment, meanwhile, aims to help those whose physical disabilities prevent them from signing a citizens’ initiative or people’s veto petition.

Disabled Mainers are already allowed to use alternative signatures to register to vote, to change political parties and to submit absentee ballots. The constitutional amendment would direct lawmakers to adopt alternative signatures for petitions for statewide referendum questions.

There was no formal campaign for either proposal.

The constitutional amendment was described by advocates as a housekeeping matter to ensure state policy is consistent on alternative signatures.

The last state constitutional amendment was a pension funding question approved in 2017 to reduce the volatility of state pension funding requirements. All told, the Maine Constitution has now been amended more than 170 times since Maine became a state in 1820.