Mainers will go to the polls Tuesday to make their voices heard on a series of eight ballot questions — four citizens’ initiatives and four proposed amendments to the state constitution.
The University of New Hampshire (UNH) Survey Center conducted a statewide poll in advance of election day revealing where voters are at on these issues.
According to the survey, Questions 3 and 4 — the establishment of Pine Tree Power and the automotive “right to repair” measure, respectively — have dominated discussions, while the other six questions have largely gone unnoticed.
More than nine in ten of those surveyed indicated that they had heard “a lot” or “some” about Question 3, a figure that came in at 79 percent for Question 4.
For all other six ballot questions, more than half of respondents said that they had heard “not very much” or “nothing at all.”
Questions 1 and 2 — which are related to the establishment of Pine Tree Power — saw a somewhat higher recognition rate than the others, coming in at 32 percent and 44 percent, respectively.
On the surface, Question 1 asks voters whether electric utilities and other quasi-governmental entities should need explicit voter approval before accruing more than $1 billion in debt.
At a deeper level, however, Question 1 is about the establishment of Pine Tree Power.
Should both Questions 1 and 3 be approved, Pine Tree Power would be forced to once again go before the voting public to gain approval for the multi-billion dollar loan that would be needed in order to acquire Maine’s current electric providers — Central Maine Power (CMP) and Versant.
Question 2 would prohibit foreign governments and foreign-owned entities from campaigning for or against both candidates and ballot questions.
The measure would also require the media to do their “due diligence” to determine whether or not the entity behind an advertisement is owned by a foreign government when making decisions about what to air or print.
For the other four referendum questions, only between 14 percent and 25 percent of respondents indicated that they had heard about the issues at hand.
UNH also asked respondents to indicate whether or not they felt they had a reasonable understanding of what the eight ballot questions were asking them to decide.
The majority of voters surveyed said that they did have a general understanding of Questions 3 and 4 — 78 percent and 75 percent of respondents respectively.
Half also said that they understood Question 2 reasonably well.
For Questions 1, 5, 6, and 7, however, only between 18 percent and 34 percent of respondents said that they had an understanding of the issues on which they are being asked to vote.
When it comes to the more widely discussed and well-understood referendum questions, most Mainers appear to have made up their minds. For the other measures, however, a remarkably high percentage of voters still remain undecided.
Question 5 — which asks voters if they would like to amend the state constitution to lengthen the timeline for the judicial review of citizen petitions — saw the highest percentage of undecided voters at 56 percent.
The second highest percentage of undecided voters — 52 percent — is seen with relation to Question 7, which asks Mainers to decide if they want to align state law with federal judicial precedent by lifting restrictions prohibiting non-Mainers from circulating citizen petitions.
Forty-two percent of Maine voters are still undecided regarding both Questions 6 and 8.
Question 6 asks if voters if they would like to require all state constitutional provisions to be included in official printed copies of the document prepared by the Secretary of State’s office.
Question 8 asks Mainers to decide whether or not they want to amend the state constitution allow individuals under guardianship for mental guardianship as a result of mental illness should be allowed to vote in state elections.
As far as Questions 1 through 4 are concerned, however, most Mainers have made up their mind.
Nearly six out of ten of respondents to the UNH poll said they intend to vote in support of Question 1.
Fifty-six percent of voters indicated, according to the UNH poll, that they will vote against the establishment of Pine Tree Power. Less than a third said they supported the measure, while 13 percent still remain undecided.
Question 2 appears to enjoy a strong measure of support in the state, with 75 percent of respondents saying that they plan to vote in favor of the law.
Just 8 percent of respondents said they plan to oppose the ballot question, and 17 percent said they are still undecided.
Concerning the “right to repair” measure proposed in Question 4, Mainers appear to be even more so on the same page.
More than three quarters said they intend to vote in favor of the measure, while only 5 percent said they plan to oppose it.
As of now, 20 percent of Maine voters are still undecided on the question.
Some of this November’s ballot questions are subject to a hefty partisan split, while others enjoy roughly the same modicum of support across all political affiliations.
Question 1 — requiring public approval for quasi-governmental entities to take on more than $1 billion in debt — received the strongest support from moderates (70 percent) and conservatives (71 percent).
Libertarians and liberals both expressed roughly the same level of support for the measure at 56 percent and 53 percent respectively.
Socialists and progressives were least supportive of the question with just 42 percent and 45 percent approval for the law.
Question 2 — barring foreign governments and their corporations from campaigning in state elections — received high levels of support across all political ideologies.
The most pronounced ideological split was produced by Question 3, concerning the establishment of Pine Tree Power.
Generally speaking, those left of center were far more likely to express support for Question 3 compared to moderates and those to the right.
On the one hand, 55 percent of socialists, 53 percent of liberals, and 48 percent of progressives are in favor of replacing Maine’s current utilities with the consumer-owned Pine Tree Power.
On the other hand, just 25 percent of moderates are supportive of the measure.
Only 19 percent of conservatives and 6 percent of libertarians indicated that they plan to vote “yes” on Question 3.
Question 4 — the automotive “right to repair” measure — appears to have the most support from socialists (86 percent) and libertarians (91 percent).
Progressives were the least supportive of the law, with only 63 percent of these respondents saying that the plan to vote in favor of the measure.
Seventy-two percent of conservatives indicated support for Question 4, and 79 percent of both liberals and moderates said that they plan to support the measure at the ballot box.
Question 5 — a constitutional amendment lengthening the time period for judicial review of citizens’ petitions — received some of the least support overall.
It is also worth nothing that respondents also appeared to be the least familiar with Question 5.
Libertarians, socialists, and progressives expressed the lowest levels of support for Question 5 — at 15 percent, 22 percent, and 21 percent respectively.
One third of conservatives said that they plan to vote in favor of the measure, and 37 percent of liberals indicated plans to do the same.
The survey also showed that 41 percent of moderates plan to support Question 5.
Question 6 — which would require that previously deleted portions of the state constitution related to defunct obligations to the Wabanaki Nations — received the least support from libertarians (30 percent) and the most support from progressives (60 percent).
Conservatives and moderates expressed support for Question 6 at roughly the same rate, coming in at 47 percent and 48 percent respectively.
A little more than half of liberals shared plans to vote in favor of the amendment, compared to just 35 percent of socialists.
Question 7 — an amendment that would lift residency requirements for those circulating citizens’ petitions — appears to be supported by 44 percent of liberals, but just 27 percent of socialists and 38 percent of progressives.
Thirty-six percent of moderates have expressed plans to vote in favor of the measure.
While 29 percent of conservatives are in support of Question 7, the same can be said for only 9 percent of libertarians.
Question 8 — which would amend the state constitution to allow those under legal guardianship for mental illness to vote — saw a marked partisan split.
Whereas 65 percent of socialists indicated plans to vote in favor of the measure, just 4% of libertarians said the same.
Forty-two percent of progressives and 35 percent are in support of Question 8, compared to just 12 percent of conservatives.
Just 14 percent of moderates said that they plan to vote in support of this proposed change to Maine’s constitution.
If the results of this UNH poll — which was conducted between October 19 and October 23 — are accurate, then Mainers can expect to see Question 1, 2, and 4 pass and Question 3 be defeated.
Given the significant percentage of respondents who said they were still undecided on the remaining questions, it is hard to assess which way those questions are likely to swing.
With very few Mainers indicating that they have heard about or understand the four constitutional amendments up for consideration, it is unclear how Maine voters will ultimately make up their mind on these issues.
That being said, nothing will be known for certain about the outcome for any of these ballot questions until after voters have gone to the polls tomorrow and the official tallies begin rolling in.