As the deadline for filing petition signatures nears, there are at least five citizen initiatives that voters will likely be asked to consider on the November ballot.

An act to legalize marijuana, an act to raise the minimum wage, an act to require background checks for gun sales, an act to increase funding for education, and an act to establish ranked-choice voting all appear headed for a statewide vote.

Secretary of State Matt Dunlap said Sunday night that he was told a group supporting a sixth citizen initiative petition effort – an act to allow slot machines or a casino in York County – has been able to collect enough signatures to get its question on the November ballot.

Dunlap said casino supporters are expected to deliver their petitions to his office on Monday sometime after 3:30 p.m. The filing deadline is 5 p.m.

In order to be certified as having a valid petition, each citizen initiative effort must produce a minimum of 61,123 valid signatures.

“The casino drive has been an unprecedented effort,” Dunlap said. “We gave them their petitions on Dec. 8 and they were able to present their signatures in just 44 days, in time to meet the Jan. 22 filing deadline for the town clerks.”


Dunlap said the ranked-choice voting petitions were certified by his staff last November. The minimum wage and gun background checks submitted their petitions to his office in January, and those are still being reviewed by his staff. In addition to the casino signatures, Dunlap said he anticipates receiving petitions Monday from the marijuana legalization group and the group that wants to establish a fund to support public education.

Stavros Mendros, a former state legislator who is the spokesman for the casino petition drive, did not return a phone call Sunday night. The proposed location of the gambling operation in York County has not been disclosed, but could not be located in a municipality without first obtaining local voter approval. There are currently two casinos in Maine – Hollywood Casino in Bangor and the Oxford Casino.

Richard Woodbury, a former state legislator from Yarmouth who is leading the effort to legalize ranked-choice voting, said the secretary of state certified 64,687 signatures from his petition drive as valid back in November.

In ranked-choice voting, voters rank candidates in order of preference and the results are tabulated in rounds, in which last-place candidates are defeated and the candidate with the most votes in the final round is elected. The referendum likely to go on the November ballot would provide ranked-choice voting for all members of Congress from Maine, the governor and all state legislators beginning Jan. 1, 2018.

In January, a coalition led by the Maine People’s Alliance, the Maine Small Business Coalition and the Maine AFL-CIO announced at a news conference in Augusta that it had collected more than 76,000 signatures on behalf of raising the minimum wage.

If the minimum wage question makes it onto the November ballot and is approved by voters, it will raise the state minimum wage to $12 an hour by Jan. 1, 2020. Maine’s minimum wage is currently $7.50 an hour, 25 cents above the federal minimum.


Maine Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense, which supports an act to require background checks for most gun sales, collected 85,436 signatures and presented them to the Secretary of State’s Office on Jan. 19, according to the group’s spokeswoman, Elizabeth Allen.

Allen said Sunday night in an email that voters from all 503 Maine cities and towns signed the petition. The group supports criminal background checks for all gun sales that occur in the state, with exceptions for family, hunting and self-defense. Under current law, background checks are only required for gun sales conducted by licensed dealers, leaving sales from unlicensed sellers – at gun shows, in classified ads and online – unregulated.

An effort to establish an interest-bearing fund that would be used to advance public education in kindergarten through grade 12 is expected to have enough signatures to make it onto the November ballot as a referendum question.

Revenue for the fund would be generated by a 3 percent surcharge on Maine taxable income over $200,000, effective beginning Jan. 1, 2017, according to documents filed with the Secretary of State’s Office.


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