The Maine House voted Thursday in favor of a resolution that would make it harder to put a referendum question on the ballot, but the proposal still faces hurdles, including votes in the Senate as well as statewide voter approval, if it gets that far. On the heels of an election last fall that saw five citizen-led referendum questions, the resolution would require petitioners to gather signatures more equally from each of Maine’s two congressional districts. As it stands now, the number of signatures gathered must be greater than 10 percent of the total vote in the most recent gubernatorial election. Last year, that was about 67,000 signatures.
The resolution would mandate that signatures be obtained from 10 percent of voters in each of Maine’s two congressional districts. Based on voting results from the 2016 election, petitioners would need to collect about 39,000 signatures in the 1st District and 35,000 signatures in the 2nd District.
Assistant House Republican leader Eleanor Espling of New Gloucester, who sponsored the resolution, L.D. 31, said the citizen referendum process must be tightened.