Articles about voting issues in Maine.

Maine: Republican lawmakers want to remove gubernatorial candidates from Clean Elections Act | The Portland Press Herald

An effort by a pair of Republican state lawmakers to remove gubernatorial candidates from Maine’s publicly financed political campaign system is being met with mixed reactions at the State House. Reps. Joel Stetkis and Paula Sutton have co-sponsored a bill removing candidates for governor from the list of those who can become eligible for taxpayer support for an election campaign. Stetkis, R-Canaan, told the Legislature’s Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee on Friday that the program was a failure as it stands even though he supports the underlying goal of the state’s Clean Election Act, which was to remove special interest money from political campaigns. Stetkis said providing up to $3 million in taxpayer funds for every gubernatorial candidate who becomes eligible for public finances puts a financial burden on the state at the expense of other priorities. Read More

Maine: Bills to tighten voter identification rules in Maine strongly opposed at hearings | The Portland Press Herald

A pair of bills aimed at tightening Maine’s voter identification requirements were broadly panned as unconstitutional and unneeded Wednesday during daylong public hearings before the Legislature’s Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee. The bills, “An Act to Require Photo Identification to Vote” and “An Act to Protect Voting Integrity by Establishing Residency Verification Requirement for Purposes of Voting,” drew criticism from civil rights groups, top election officials, the state’s attorney general and everyday citizens. Also testifying against the bills were at least a dozen students from Bates College. The Lewiston school has been the target of ongoing criticism from conservatives in Maine, including Republican Gov. Paul LePage, who has suggested that college students have been improperly or illegally voting in Maine elections. Read More

Maine: Pair of Bills Take Aim at College Voters | Maine Public

Voting rights advocates and college students in Maine are hoping to defeat a pair of bills that could make it more difficult for some people to vote. The Legislature will hold a public hearing on Wednesday to weigh the proposals, which have emerged at a time when Republican leaders, including the president, are saying the electoral system is wrought with voter fraud. The bill sponsored by House Republican Leader Ken Fredette deals with a section of voting law dealing with people who tend to move around — military service members and college students. But Fredette’s bill only targets students. It would require them to do one of three things before they can vote: register their car in Maine, prove they pay income or property taxes or show a driver’s license with a residence that matches where they want to vote. Fredette says the proposal is simple, to ensure that college students claiming Maine residency on Election Day are actually residents. “The last thing I want to do is disenfranchise anyone from voting,” he says. “However, we do have a Constitution and the Constitution says you in fact have to be a resident to vote.” But opponents have a different view. Read More

Maine: High court will hear case on ranked choice voting law | The Portland Press Herald

Maine’s Supreme Judicial Court has agreed to review a set of questions being posed to it by the Maine Senate over a citizen-enacted law that would change the state to a ranked-choice voting system. The state Senate requested the court review the ballot question law last week, suggesting it presents a so-called “solemn occasion” as the legality and even the constitutionality of the new law could throw state government into post-election chaos. In a bipartisan 24-10 vote, the Senate, as provided in the state’s constitution, asked the court to review the law. Read More

Maine: Senate Asks High Court for Opinion on Voter-Approved Ranked-Choice Initiative | Maine Public Radio

Maine voters approved a measure this past fall to adopt a ranked-choice voting system for statewide elections. Now lawmakers who are trying to implement the new law are asking the Maine Supreme Court to weigh in on whether it’s constitutional. Last year Maine Attorney General Janet Mills raised questions about the proposal because it appeared to clash with language in the state constitution. For decades, the candidate that got the most votes in a contest has been declared the winner. But under the new system, voters will indicate their top multiple choices in order of preference, and the candidates with the fewest votes are eliminated until someone has a majority. Democratic state Sen. Shenna Bellows of Manchester, former director of the ACLU in Maine, says the voters have spoken and the Legislature should follow their will. “We do not want to set a precedent of a Legislature turning to the courts every time a law is passed to seek an advisory opinion as to the constitutionality of our legislation,” she says. Read More

Maine: Lawmakers may seek court opinion on constitutionality of ranked-choice voting | The Portland Press Herald

The Senate could vote next week on a whether to seek a Maine Supreme Judicial Court opinion on the constitutionality of the state’s new system of ranked-choice voting. Last November, Mainers approved an initiative that would allow voters to rank candidates for governor, Congress and the Legislature in order of preference, thereby enabling an “instant run-off” in the event that no candidate receives a majority of the votes in the initial tally. Maine would be the first state in the nation to adopt ranked-choice voting for statewide elections beginning in 2018. However, opponents have questioned the constitutionality of the system. Next week, the Maine Senate is expected to vote on a procedural order that, if it passes, would ask Maine’s highest court to weigh in on the constitutionality issue. Approval of the order – known as a “solemn occasion” request – would require a majority vote in the closely divided Senate. Read More

Maine: Recount bid ends, clearing way for legal marijuana in Maine | Bangor Daily News

The campaign that opposed a referendum seeking to legalize marijuana for recreational use in Maine abandoned its recount effort Saturday afternoon, clearing the way for Maine to become the latest state to allow use of the drug for nonmedical purposes. The  citizen-initiated legalization effort appeared as Question 1 on the Nov. 8 ballot. Unofficial results showed the question winning by less than 1 percentage point, the closest contest on a ballot that included four other citizen-initiated referendums and a bond question.That narrow margin prompted opponents of legalization — organized as Mainers Protecting Our Youth and Communities — to ask the secretary of state to conduct a statewide recount. After a weekslong process that required ballots from all over the state to be collected and delivered to Augusta, the recount began earlier this month. Read More

Maine: Without evidence, LePage tells lawmakers he can’t attest to election tallies | Bangor Daily News

Gov. Paul LePage has sent newly elected legislators to Augusta a form letter saying he “cannot attest to the accuracy” of Maine’s recent election results, but doesn’t cite any specific evidence of fraud, and no major voting problems were reported in the state. The letter, which was posted on social media by Democratic lawmakers on Thursday, turned a mere formality into a political statement, with the Republican governor doubling down on past doubts about the integrity of Maine’s election system. Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap, a Democrat, said LePage is “continuing that widespread mythology of widespread voter fraud,” saying Maine saw only isolated cases of voting issues on Election Day, none of which amounted to fraud. “I think the integrity of the election is absolutely not in question,” Dunlap said. “I’ve asserted that a hundred times, and I’ll assert it another hundred times.” Read More

Maine: More Mainers voted on referendums than on presidential race | Associated Press

Maine voters appear to be more passionate about guns, marijuana and the minimum wage than they are about the nation’s next leader. Unofficial tallies from the Nov. 8 election indicate more Maine residents voted on four of the five ballot questions than for president, underscoring voters’ keen interest in the high-profile referendums and perhaps their frustrations over the presidential nominees, Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton. “A lot of people looked at the presidential choices and said, ‘Yuck!’ They didn’t stay home. They came out. They just didn’t vote top of the ticket,” said Mark Brewer, a political science professor at the University of Maine. An analysis by The Associated Press indicates the greatest discrepancy was in the referendum to expand background checks for gun purchases. On that question, which was defeated, there were 13,307 more votes cast than in the presidential contest in Maine. Read More

Maine: Recounts requested for legalized marijuana, school surcharge votes | The Portland Press Herald

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. Read More