AUGUSTA, Maine — Every county in Maine voted on Tuesday to decisively reject a people’s veto effort to repeal a stricter vaccine law, with only a handful of mostly small towns across the state voting “yes” on Question 1.
The law, which will eliminate religious and philosophical exemptions for mandatory vaccinations, passed largely along partisan lines in the Legislature last year, clearing the Maine Senate by only one vote. Conservatives argued that it infringed on personal and religious freedoms, while Democrats in the Legislature said increasing vaccination rates was important for public health.
On Tuesday, however, 73 percent of voters opposed the referendum, suggesting bipartisan support for the law. The question gained majority support in only a handful of towns, largely in conservative-leaning Piscataquis and Washington counties.
Tuesday’s election was a tough environment for conservative causes, as a competitive Democratic presidential party brought out voters in droves while President Donald Trump was unopposed on the Republican ballot. More than twice as many Democratic voters participated in the primary as Republicans. An additional 80,000 independent or third-party voters — who did not vote in either party’s primary — still voted on the referendum, too.
The referendum still failed, however, in some municipalities where Republicans outnumbered Democrats. In Caribou, 514 voters supported Trump in the Republican primary. Only 501 voted in the Democratic contest. But voters still shot down the referendum by a two-to-one margin. The largest municipality to vote “yes” was Newport, with a population of just over 3,200.