Election Day is coming and unfortunately many voters will be left scratching their heads in the voting booth, reading the language of the State ballot questions, and wondering what to do. While I’m not going to tell you how to vote, after speaking with a number of constituents who haven’t heard a thing, I’d like to give you an overview of the questions you’ll see on the State ballot. Below is a summary of each question along with Web links for those who are inclined to dig a little deeper.
Question 1 is “An Act to Strengthen the Maine Clean Election Act, Improve Disclosure and Make Other Changes to the Campaign Finance Laws.”
Voters will be asked, “Do you want to change Maine law to allow publicly financed state candidates to qualify for additional funds under certain limits and rules in the Maine Clean Election Act, to improve the disclosure of who pays for political ads, and to increase penalties for violations of campaign finance law?”
If this measure passes it would significantly increase the amount of public, taxpayer funds that are handed out to candidates running for the Maine Legislature or those running for governor. For example, if this measure passes, those running for the Maine House of Representatives would receive roughly $15,000 while those running for state senate would get $62,000. Currently, candidates can qualify for roughly $5,000 for a state house race and $22,000 for a state senate race.
The full text of the citizen’s initiative bill, which is on file as Legislative Document 806, can be viewed online at http://www.mainelegislature.org/legis/bills/bills_127th/billtexts/IB000101.asp.
In addition to the citizens’ initiative question, the November ballot will also include two bond questions:
Question 2 is “An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue To Support the Independence of Maine's Seniors.” would issue $15 million in bonds for the construction of energy-efficient housing for low-income seniors and the repair and weatherization of existing homes for low-income seniors. A senior would be defined as a person 55 years of age or older.
Question 3 is “An Act To Authorize Two General Fund Bond Issues To Improve Highways, Bridges and Multimodal Facilities.” This is asking voters to approve an $85,000,000 bond package that would trigger a match that would put $121,500,000 into Maine’s ports, harbors, marine transportation, freight and passenger railroads, aviation, transit and bicycle and pedestrian trails.
For more information about the November 2015 elections, visit http://maine.gov/sos/cec/elec/upcoming/index.html. Information on voter registration and locating your polling place can also be found on the Secretary of State’s Web site.
Aside from these three questions on the State ballot, there will be a Town referendum question with regard to funding a new public works, school transportation, and maintenance facility, along with elections for two town councilors, two school board members and town clerk.
There’s plenty of incentive to get out to vote. I hope to see you at the polls.