JOHN BRAUTIGAM discusses upcoming ballot questions Thursday at a meeting hosted by the League of Women Voters of Maine’s Brunswick chapter.

JOHN BRAUTIGAM discusses upcoming ballot questions Thursday at a meeting hosted by the League of Women Voters of Maine’s Brunswick chapter.

BRUNSWICK

On Thursday, the League of Women Voters of Maine’s Brunswick chapter held an event to inform residents of the referendum items that will be on the upcoming November ballot.

John Brautigam, a former state legislator and a lawyer who has been active in Maine legal issues, gave a presentation on the history of Maine’s referendum process and discussed the six ballot questions that Mainers will decide on in just over a month.

Maine is one of several states with a process to allow voters to approve or reject legislation directly. In Maine, that power has been used to pass laws as varied as the Maine Clean Election Act to a ban on cruise missile testing. A total of 116 measures have appeared on the ballot over the last 20 years, said Brautigam, 89 of which were approved of by voters.

In order to get a referendum issue on the ballot, concerned citizens must gather signatures equivalent to 10 percent of the number of votes cast in the most recent gubernatorial election — that’s more than 60,000 signatures for this year.

“Maine has a long history of citizen-initiated legislation where the voters get to serve as lawmakers for the day, and that trend is certainly going to continue this year,” said Brautigam. “The first citizen-initiated bill in Maine was approved on Sept. 11, 1911. The constitution of Maine was amended in 1909 to allow for citizen-initiated legislation of this kind.”

Brautigam, a member of the League of Women Voters of Maine, has been involved in a number of ballot questions throughout his career. Last year, he worked “extensively” on the Maine Clean Elections Act question. This year, Brautigam worked to varying degrees on the ranked choice voting, funding for education, and the minimum wage questions.

This year, voters across the state will decide the fate of five citizen-initiated questions as well as one bond issue. The six ballot questions respectively deal with marijuana legalization, education funding, background checks on guns, raising the minimum wage, ranked choice voting, and a bond issue for infrastructure projects.

“To date, the 2016 Maine ballot initiatives — the campaigns — have reported raising and spending over $7 million in campaign contributions,” said Brautigam. “And this does not include some of the separate spending that’s been done by political actions committees and organizations that are not actually formally registered as a ballot question committee.”

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IN NOVEMBER, Maine voters will decide the fate of five citizen-initiated questions as well as one bond issue. The six ballot questions respectively deal with marijuana legalization, education funding, background checks on guns, raising the minimum wage, ranked choice voting, and a bond issue for infrastructure projects.


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