Opponents of ballot initiatives to legalize recreational marijuana and tax the state’s highest earners to help fund public schools have submitted requests for recounts. Petitions seeking recounts were turned in Wednesday afternoon to the Secretary of State’s Office, hours before the 5 p.m. deadline. State officials must verify that at least 100 signatures on each petition came from registered voters who cast ballots in the Nov. 8 election before a recount is scheduled. Both Question 1, which would legalize marijuana, and Question 2, which would add a 3 percent tax surcharge on individual income over $200,000, were narrowly approved. The two statewide recounts combined will cost taxpayers more than $500,000, the Secretary of State’s Office said. The marijuana question passed by 4,073 votes, 381,692-377,619, less than 1 percent, according to unofficial results from the Secretary of State’s Office.
“I think it’s due diligence (to conduct a recount) because it was such a tight margin,” said Hillary Lister of Maine Matters Vote No, a group that opposed Question 1. “Any initiative that is this close should have a recount.”
Alysia Melnick of the Yes on 1 campaign said the recount is unlikely to change the outcome, given the margin and the accuracy of the state’s voting machines. “With thousands of votes in the margin, the recount is not going to be successful,” she said, “and it’s unfortunate the opposition would go against the will of the people and use taxpayer dollars for a recount that will not change the outcome.”
Paul McCarrier, president of Legalize Maine, also said there is no way a recount will change the outcome. “I am disappointed that the ‘No’ camp would waste hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars when they have clearly lost,” he said.