November 5, 2013

Maine voters approve four bond packages

Only the Maine Maritime Academy funding is too close to call.

The Associated Press

AUGUSTA — Maine residents have approved borrowing proposals totaling about $145 million that would pay for maintenance and improvements for roads, schools and armories.

Voters on Tuesday approved four out of five bond packages, the only items on the statewide ballot.

A fifth proposal, to borrow $4.5 million for a science building at Maine Maritime Academy, was leading by a narrow margin. But it was too close to call with more than two-thirds of precincts reporting.

Of those that were approved, the biggest bond was a $100 million proposal for road and bridge projects. The others were $14 million to overhaul armories, $15.5 million to improve university facilities and $15.5 million for classroom improvements in community colleges.

The bond package resulted from a political battle between legislative Democrats and Republican Gov. Paul LePage, who generally opposes long-term borrowing.

Mainers generally support bonds, but not always. Residents rejected $11.3 million worth of bonds for capital improvements for universities and community colleges just last year.

Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap predicted turnout would be in the range of 15 percent to 25 percent of Maine’s voting-age population. The lowest that he could recall was 13 percent.

Maine typically boasts one of the nation’s highest voter turnouts, but there’s no governor’s race, Senate race, presidential race or major statewide ballot initiative to draw voters this year.

Election officials said the lower-than-normal turnout could be helpful as the state used 400 new voting machines featuring digital scanners for the first time.

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