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Maine voters approve all three statewide ballot questions

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Early returns on November 2 proved to be indicative of the results for Maine’s three ballot questions, which were all approved by the state’s voters. 

With approximately 15% of the votes returned on the night of the election, the “yes” votes suggested all 3 referendum questions would pass. Questions 2 and 3 were trending towards being approved in all 16 of Maine’s counties.

Question 2, a bond issue, was the first statewide race of the night to be called. The Bangor Daily News and Decision Desk HQ, with whom the paper partnered for election night coverage, called the race at 9:16 p.m.

With the vote, voters approved a $100 million transportation bond. According to the ballot language, the bond will be issued “to build or improve roads, bridges, railroads, airports, transit facilities and ports,” as well as other transportation investments. It will be used to leverage an expected $253 million in federal aid.

The morning of the election, with approximately 85% of votes reported, the question received 72.1% approval.

After the race was called on election night, Department of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner Bruce Van Note issued a statement thanking Mainers for their support of transportation funding.

“The $100 million general obligation bonds connected to Question 2 will trigger up to $253 million in other investments from federal, local, and private partners. Combined, this funding represents about 40 percent of what MaineDOT spends on transportation funding every year. These dollars are critical to our mission. Without these funds, we simply could not do our job for the people who live, work, and travel in Maine,” Van Note said.

The races for Question 1 and Question 3 were called approximately 30 minutes later. 

With roughly 85% of statewide votes reporting, Question 1, by far the most contested issue of the election, passed with 59% of the vote. With the exception of Aroostook County, all of Maine’s counties voted to stop construction of Central Maine Power’s (CMP) hydropower energy corridor.

Question 1 asked voters: “Do you want to ban the construction of high-impact electric transmission lines in the Upper Kennebec Region and to require the Legislature to approve all other such projects anywhere in Maine, both retroactively to 2020, and to require the Legislature, retroactively to 2014, to approve by a two-thirds vote such projects using public land?”

Following the call of the race, Natural Resources Council of Maine’s Advocacy Director Pete Didisheim released a statement calling for construction of the corridor to be immediately halted.

“Maine residents have voted decisively to terminate the CMP corridor, which means the time has come for CMP to respect the will of Maine people by stopping this project immediately. If CMP fails to halt construction activities right away, then the Department of Environmental Protection should move quickly to suspend the permit and require that CMP begin restoring areas of Western Maine that already have been damaged,” Didisheim said.

He also called on Massachusetts to seek an alternative to the power corridor.

Clean Energy Matters, CMP’s political committee, also released a statement following the call of the race, announcing their intent to continue to fight for the corridor.

“We believe this referendum, funded by fossil fuel interests, is unconstitutional. With over 400 Maine jobs and our ability to meet our climate goals on the line, this fight will continue,” Clean Energy Matters said in a statement. 

Maine voters also approved putting a right to food into the state Constitution.

Question 3 asked voters:

“Do you favor amending the Constitution of Maine to declare that all individuals have a natural, inherent and unalienable right to grow, raise, harvest, produce and consume the food of their own choosing for their own nourishment, sustenance, bodily health and well-being?”

With approximately 85% of the statewide votes reported, Question 3 passed with 60.5% of the vote and received approval from all 16 of Maine’s counties.

In a special election for State Representative District 86, Democrats took a seat away from Republicans. Democratic candidate Raegan LaRochelle defeated Republican candidate James Orr with 56.2% of the vote. The special election was called after Republican Justin Fecteau vacated the seat in July. LaRochelle will serve through the end of the term for which Fecteau was elected. The seat will be open for election again in 2022.

Westbrook also became the second city in Maine to vote to use ranked-choice voting in local elections. A referendum question that would amend the city’s charter passed with 63% of the vote. Voters in Hampden also rejected a $4.5 million bond to construct a municipal broadband network.

About Katherine Revello

Katherine Revello is a reporter for The Maine Wire. She has degrees in journalism and political science from the University of Maine. Her writing has appeared in Reason, The Washington Examiner, and various other publications. Got news tips? Contact Katherine at krevello@mainepolicy.org.

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