Bonds, amendment up for votes Election Day in Maine
PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Mainers won’t have to spend much time filling out the statewide ballot: There will be only two statewide issues on Election Day in Maine.
One is a proposed bond package approved by legislators, while the other is a constitutional amendment aimed at ensuring that people who are unable to sign their names can still support referendum petition drives.
Voter turnout is projected to be light on Tuesday except in communities where there are high-profile local races, said Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap.
Voters are being asked to weigh in on $105 million in proposed borrowing for roads and bridges, and other projects. The bond proposal would be matched by $137 million in federal and other funds.
Most of the money would be directed toward the overhaul and replacement of highways and bridges. An additional $15 million would go to railroads, ports, marine transportation, aviation, bicycle and pedestrian improvements. Lesser amounts would go to other projects.
The constitutional amendment, meanwhile, aims to help those whose physical disabilities prevent them from signing a citizens’ initiative or people’s veto petition.
Disabled state residents are already allowed to use alternative signatures to register to vote, to change political parties and to submit absentee ballots, among other things.
But there’s no specific provision in the Maine Constitution for petition drives aimed at putting a matter to a statewide vote. That means an alternative signature used to sign a citizen initiative or people’s veto petition would be considered invalid, Dunlap said.
“It’s a gap in the Constitution. There are alternative provisions for signatures for everything else we do except citizen initiatives or people’s vetoes,” he said.
There were no specific complaints that drove the constitutional amendment. It’s more of a “housekeeping” measure to help people with disabilities and ensure the state policy is consistent, he said.
“It doesn’t create anything new. It corrects an oversight and provides even greater access for people with disabilities who are otherwise excluded from parts of the democratic process,” said Sara Squires, public policy director for Disability Rights Maine.
The last Maine Constitutional amendment was a pension funding question adopted in 2017 to reduce the volatility of state pension funding requirements. All told, the Maine Constitution has been amended 173 times since Maine became a state in 1820.