We Mainers value our authority as citizens to make new law through ballot initiatives, like the five statewide measures weighed at the polls Tuesday. But we the people of Maine are getting one day to make yes-or-no decisions on matters that our elected representatives couldn’t settle over months. That’s a sign that the referendum process needs changing.

Mainers voted on weighty measures Tuesday – citizen initiatives addressing marijuana legalization, school funding, background checks for private firearm sales, the state minimum wage and ranked-choice voting. To put issues on the ballot, organizers had to get over 62,000 signatures, or 10 percent of the record-setting turnout at the last gubernatorial election, in 2014.

But despite this high bar for eligibility, don’t expect much letup next year, either: The 2017 ballot could include a MaineCare expansion referendum, a York County casino proposal and a combined welfare reform-income tax cut measure.

Experts have studied the citizen initiative process in the 26 states where this form of direct democracy is in place, and they’ve outlined things that legislators here in Maine should do to make it all go more smoothly. These are just a few:

n Mandate a state review of both the technical format and the content of the proposal that will appear on the petition, pointing out unintended consequences and constitutional issues and making nonbinding suggestions to the measure’s supporters.

n Require petition circulators to disclose whether they’re paid or volunteer, and mandate that they collect signatures from people in different parts of the state.

n Heed Oregon’s lead and set up a citizen review panel that offers voters impartial information on the most complex proposals, in the form of a statement crafted after meetings with proponents and opponents.

Of course, the Maine Legislature and Gov. LePage could take the burden off voters just by doing what they were elected to do: That is, to make laws via the usual process of debate and negotiation.

Since there’s no evidence that that’s going to happen, though, tough policy issues will continue to be punted to us citizens – and we deserve the tools we need to do the job well.