AUGUSTA – Labor Day marks the traditional start of the fall campaign season, and even in this off-year, voters will be asked to make some important decisions on Nov. 8.

This week, Secretary of State Charlie Summers is expected to announce whether the groups that want to place a people’s veto on the ballot successfully gathered the 57,000-plus signatures they needed.

Protect Maine Votes, a coalition of 18 groups including the League of Women Voters of Maine and the Maine Civil Liberties Union, turned in more than 68,000 signatures last month in an effort to ask voters to overturn a law passed in June.

The law eliminates same-day voter registration and requires new voters to register more than two business days before an election. Supporters of the law say it will reduce the potential for voter fraud, while opponents say it will disenfranchise voters.

If the signatures are found to be valid, the repeal will be Question 1 on the ballot. If they are not, the first question on the ballot will be:

“Do you want to allow a slot machine facility at a harness racing track in Biddeford or another community within 25 miles of Scarborough Downs, subject to local approval, and at a harness racing track in Washington County, with part of the profits from these facilities going to support specific state and local programs?”

Followed by:

“Do you want to allow a casino with table games and slot machines in Lewiston, with part of the profits going to support specific state and local programs?”

Summers held a drawing Friday to determine the order for the two citizens initiatives related to gambling. After he shook his Ronald Reagan jelly bean jar with the two questions sealed inside — “we will make sure these are all mixed up, all two of them,” he said — the order was determined.

The last question on the ballot will ask voters if they want a constitutional amendment to move the state’s deadline for redrawing congressional, legislative and county districts from 2023 to 2021 and every 10 years thereafter, to put it closer to the U.S. Census.

It also would add to the Constitution a requirement that redistricting decisions be made by two-thirds votes of the House and Senate.

STATE PRIDE?

Maine … the way life shouldn’t be? It seems that’s what Maine Treasurer Bruce Poliquin is saying. He used his most recent blog and newsletter post to take Sen. Cynthia Dill, D-Cape Elizabeth, to task for an op-ed she wrote in The Portland Press Herald.

Poliquin said she “scolded” him and Gov. Paul LePage for continually comparing Maine unfavorably to New Hampshire and branding Maine as “an unsophisticated salvage state.”

He also criticized Dill for praising Maine for being “among the best places to live, raise children and start a business.”

“Sometimes the truth hurts. At all times the truth is necessary. So, let’s tell some truths,” Poliquin retorts.

He uses the rest of the post to highlight what he sees as shortcomings of leadership during Dill’s five-year legislative tenure and to tout the improvements he believes have come about due to his and LePage’s efforts.

“The LePage administration doesn’t kick the fiscal can down the street,” he said. “Balance the books straight up. No more gimmicks.”

While the two-year budget that started July 1 did eliminate furlough days for state workers and made strides in reducing the state’s pension debt, it contained a $25 million hole that lawmakers are now working to fill.

Poliquin ends the post by saying that only after all of LePage’s initiatives are achieved can “we honestly and proudly proclaim Maine to be a great state to live, raise children, and start a business.”

WHAT’S YOUR SIGN (OR PARTY)?

Statistics released Friday by Rasmussen Reports show that, nationally, the number of “Americans who are not affiliated with either major political party has reached the highest level ever.”

The tracking survey of about 15,000 adults per month has been done by Rasmussen since November 2002. The most recent numbers divide the electorate roughly in thirds — 33.5 percent unenrolled, 33.5 percent Republican and 33 percent Democrat. That’s the lowest level in seven years for Democratic enrollment, the pollster observed.

What’s it like in Maine?

A quick check with the Secretary of State’s Office shows our numbers at 36 percent unenrolled, 33 percent Democratic, 28 percent Republican and 3 percent Green Independent.

JACKSON CHALLENGES LePAGE

Sen. Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, used Saturday’s Democratic radio address to challenge LePage for comments LePage made recently at a town hall meeting in Presque Isle.

A woman asked the governor if there was any legislation he would support to help Maine loggers.

LePage said he supports Maine loggers but he has also talked to mill owners who can’t get enough logs because Maine wood is being sold in Canada.

“The issue is, we have a shortage in our mills,” he said. “You go to certain areas of the state and there is no shortage and there is no need for Canadian loggers. Other parts of the state, you have to have them because there’s no wood, there’s nobody who wants to cut the logs, there’s nobody there to cut the trees.”

That part about “nobody who wants to cut the logs” upset Jackson, who is a logger.

“Is the governor insinuating that Maine people are lazy or choosing not to work?” Jackson asked.

He invited the governor to come back to Aroostook County to meet with loggers — those who are employed and those who are looking for work — to “set the record straight.”

LePage ended his remarks in Presque Isle by inviting logging contractors who need work to call his office because “we can put them to work.”

The dispute over logging between Jackson and LePage dates back to at least June, when LePage vetoed Jackson’s bill to require the state to hire only Maine loggers to work on state-owned land.

GOP GOLF OUTING

The Maine Senate Republicans are looking for golfers to play in their annual fundraiser, which will be held this year at Martindale Country Club in Auburn. The money will go to help elect Republicans to the Senate in 2012.

The event will be held Sept. 13. Contact the Maine Republican Party for more details.

MITCHELL TO BE HONORED

On the other side of the aisle, the Maine Democratic Party will host its annual Jefferson-Jackson dinner Sept. 23 in Portland, where it will honor the accomplishments of former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell.

The Waterville native has had a wide-ranging career, most recently serving as special envoy for Middle East peace in the Obama administration. He has been a U.S. senator, chairman of the Walt Disney Co. and the lead investigator into performance-enhancing drugs in professional baseball.

He’s scheduled to attend the dinner, along with Democratic U.S. Reps. Mike Michaud and Chellie Pingree.

MaineToday Media State House Writers Susan Cover and Rebekah Metzler contributed to this report.