November 18, 2019
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Everything Mainers need to know before they vote

AUGUSTA, Maine — We know. You’ve been busy. You haven’t paid enough attention to the campaigns. Other than a few races and a ballot question or two, you’re not sure what to expect on your ballot.

The Bangor Daily News has you covered. From the presidential race to the all-important battle for control of the Maine Legislature, our focus on the election and its implications for Maine hasn’t wavered. In that spirit, we present the BDN’s 2016 election primer. Peruse it to see what you’re interested in and click on the blue words if you want to dig deeper.

How to vote

When and where? Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 8. To find your polling location, click on the state of Maine’s website here and enter your address. That link also will show you the candidates in the congressional, legislative and county races you’ll be voting in as well as sample ballots. All voting in Maine closes at 8 p.m. on Election Day. Watch for full coverage and click here on election night for our up-to-the-minute results page that includes every election right down to your local boards and committees.

Do I have to register? Yes. You can register up to and throughout Election Day at your local town office or city hall. You’ll need valid identification, such as a driver’s license or passport, and proof of your address, such as a current utility bill, bank statement or paycheck stub. You’ll be asked to fill out a quick Maine Voter Registration Application. If you’re already registered in the municipality where you’re voting, no identification documents are required to vote. Call your municipal officials — and find their phone numbers by clicking here — with questions about logistics or local candidates.

What’s on the ballot?

PRESIDENTIAL: The presidential candidates on the Maine ballot are (in order) Democrat Hillary Clinton, Libertarian Gary Johnson, Green Independent Jill Stein and Republican Donald Trump.

Recent headlines

At Maine school, Trump compares Clinton email probe to Watergate (Oct. 28)

Poll: Clinton, Trump virtually tied in Maine’s 2nd District (Oct 21)

Poll: Clinton pulls ahead in Maine (Oct. 31)

Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump spar in first presidential debate (Sept. 27)

These voters will decide if Trump or Clinton wins Maine’s 2nd District (Oct. 14)

Tiny Maine is getting outsize attention from Clinton, Trump (Oct. 21)

Bangor Daily News live blog, 1st presidential debate (Sept. 26)

Bangor Daily News live blog, 2nd presidential debate (Oct. 9)

Bangor Daily News live blog, 3rd presidential debate (Oct. 19)

CONGRESSIONAL: Both of Maine’s representatives to the U.S. House are facing re-election. In the 1st Congressional District, which includes southern and coastal Maine ( click here to see which congressional district you live in) incumbent Democrat Chellie Pingree faces a challenge by Republican Mark Holbrook and Libertarian write-in candidate Jim Bouchard.

In the 2nd Congressional District, which includes central, western and northern Maine, incumbent Republican Bruce Poliquin faces a challenge from Democrat Emily Cain, who he beat in 2014.

Recent 1st District headlines:

Holbrook confirmed GOP primary winner in Maine’s 1st District (June 29)

Underdog in Maine’s 1st District follows campaign trail blazed by LePage, Trump (Sept. 25)

Primary results reflect split personality of Maine’s electorate (June 15)

Libertarian ‘black belt guy’ aims to take down Chellie Pingree (June 2)

Recent 2nd District headlines:

Answers are hard to come by at first Poliquin-Cain debate (Oct. 18)

I n second debate, Poliquin-Cain turn critical in The County (Oct. 19)

Final Cain-Poliquin debate doesn’t cover much new ground (Oct. 27)

How Cain and Poliquin are funding their higher-priced rematch (Oct. 17)

Some see positive change in Cain’s campaign. Is it enough to unseat Poliquin? (Oct. 2)

Unspinning 4 key attacks in this year’s Poliquin-Cain rematch (Aug. 15)

Poll shows solid lead for Poliquin in Maine’s 2nd District (Sept. 26)

LEGISLATIVE: All 151 seats in the Maine House of Representatives and 35 seats in the Maine Senate are up for re-election. These elections are harder to track ahead of time because of their sheer volume and the fact that there is little local-level polling data available. The outcomes of these races will be crucial to the political landscape in the last two years of Republican Gov. Paul LePage’s final term in office. Democrats have the majority in the House, 78-69 over Republicans, with four independents. Republicans hold the majority over Democrats in the Senate, 20-15.

Recent headlines:

Cash and the path to Maine legislative control flow through these districts (Oct. 30)

Late GOP withdrawals give Maine Democrats an advantage in legislative races (Aug. 22)

Why Democrats should keep Maine House majority in 2016 (May 27)

For Republicans, a tough road to hold onto Maine Senate majority (May 20)

LePage says he expects GOP to lose Maine Senate majority (Sept. 6)

Republicans’ hopes of winning the Maine Legislature look slightly better (July 27)

LePage’s legacy at stake in Maine’s 2016 legislative races (March 15)

LePage dominates 2016 Maine elections, even if he is not on ballot (Sept. 11)

The referendums

There are five citizen-initiated referendum questions and one bond question on the ballot. To see the full text of each bill, click here and choose “Legislation” below the various questions. Here are some of the details.

QUESTION 1, legalizing recreational marijuana: “Do you want to allow the possession and use of marijuana under state law by persons who are at least 21 years of age, and allow the cultivation, manufacture, distribution, testing, and sale of marijuana and marijuana products subject to state regulation, taxation and local ordinance?”

This bill would legalize the possession and use of up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana in Maine by anyone 21 years of age or older and would create a licensing process for marijuana growers and retail facilities. It allows anyone age 21 or older to cultivate up to six flowering marijuana plants and sets a 10 percent tax on retail marijuana.

Recent headlines:

What has to happen before you could buy marijuana without a prescription in Maine (Oct. 10)

Maine attorney general denies that her Question 1 criticism politically motivated (Oct. 17)

United by pot, divided by policy: How Maine’s pro-marijuana forces disagree (Oct. 11)

Legal pot would be like alcohol at work, but there’s no good test for it (Oct. 21)

QUESTION 2, funding for public schools: “Do you want to add a 3 percent tax on individual Maine taxable income above $200,000 to create a state fund that would provide direct support for student learning in kindergarten through 12th grade public education?”

This bill would put a 3 percent surtax on all individual income in Maine over $200,000 beginning on Jan. 1, 2017. The estimated $157 million per year that would be generated would be put in a fund dedicated to support public schools, with the intention of increasing the state’s contribution toward the total cost of education to at least 55 percent. The money would be earmarked for direct support for students, as opposed to administration costs.

Recent headlines:

Maine’s $157 million question: Does more funding equal better schools? (Oct. 9)

Why a Maine school funding guru opposes referendum to hike spending (Aug. 7)

Can Maine make schools better by raising income tax on high earners? (May 29)

Maine’s top earners are facing a tax hike. Here’s where they live. (Nov. 1)

QUESTION 3, background checks for private gun sales: “Do you want to require background checks prior to the sale or transfer of firearms between individuals not licensed as firearms dealers, with failure to do so punishable by law, and with some exceptions for family members, hunting, self-defense, lawful competitions, and shooting range activity?”

This bill would require background checks for the sale or transfer of firearms between individuals who are not licensed firearm dealers and requires both parties to meet at a licensed firearm dealer before a background check. There are exceptions for transfers between family members, while both parties are hunting or sport shooting and for emergency self-defense.

Recent headlines:

In fight over 2nd District, opposition to Question 3 could boost Republicans (Oct. 16)

Maine police, who witness gun violence up close, divided over background checks (Oct. 14)

QUESTION 4, increasing the minimum wage: “Do you want to raise the minimum hourly wage of $7.50 to $9 in 2017, with annual $1 increases up to $12 in 2020, and annual cost-of-living increases thereafter; and do you want to raise the direct wage for service workers who receive tips from half the minimum wage to $5 in 2017, with annual $1 increases until it reaches the adjusted minimum wage?”

This bill would do just as the question describes.

Recent headlines:

These Maine workers would benefit most from a higher minimum wage (Oct. 28)

Maine minimum wage hike qualifies for 2016 ballot (Feb. 16)

Cash from away weigh heavily in Maine ballot question campaigns (Oct. 11)

Poll: Most Mainers support minimum wage hike (Oct. 15)

QUESTION 5, ranked-choice voting: “Do you want to allow voters to rank their choices of candidates in elections for U.S. Senate, Congress, Governor, State Senate, and State Representative, and to have ballots counted at the state level in multiple rounds in which last-place candidates are eliminated until a candidate wins by majority?”

This initiative would implement a new voting method in Maine for congressional, gubernatorial and legislative elections in which voters make multiple choices in each race by order of preference. In these elections, a winner is declared if a majority picks a candidate as their first choice. If not, the candidate with the lowest number of first-place votes is eliminated and second-place votes cast by voters for that candidate are reallocated. The process is repeated until someone wins a majority.

Recent headlines:

Simulation: Ranked-choice system leaves room for strategic voting (Oct. 26)

Science guided our ranked-choice voting simulation (Oct. 26)

Backers of ranked-choice voting say it would add civility to campaigns (Sept. 27)

In tight elections decided by ranked-choice voting, winners might not be known for weeks (Sept. 26)

QUESTION 6, transportation bond: “Do you favor a $100,000,000 bond issue for construction, reconstruction and rehabilitation of highways and bridges and for facilities, equipment and property acquisition related to ports, harbors, marine transportation, freight and passenger railroads, aviation, transit and bicycle and pedestrian trails, to be used to match an estimated $137,000,000 in federal and other funds?”

This bond issue would provide $80 million in state money for roads and bridges and $20 million in state money for ports, harbors, marine transportation, aviation, rail, transit and pedestrian trails. The bond would be paid off within 10 years, including interest of about $22.6 million. The state money would be matched by about $137 million in federal and other funds.


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