The recount of the marijuana legalization vote moved into its second week Monday with the No on 1 campaign picking up a small number of votes.

The recount of the contentious ballot issue began last Monday and focused on the largest cities in Maine, including Portland and Bangor. Sixteen percent of ballots cast statewide have been recounted by hand.

The start of the recount was delayed until 11 a.m. Monday because of snow.

The No on 1 campaign says it continues to pick up votes, but did not provide specific numbers. The Secretary of State’s Office will not release new vote totals until the recount is over.

Question 1 on the Nov. 8 ballot appeared to have legalized recreational marijuana by a margin of just over 4,000 votes.

David Boyer, manager of the Yes on 1 campaign, said last week the no side picked up 26 votes in Portland, a number he characterized as statistically insignificant. The results released on Election Day showed Portland residents approving Question 1 by a vote of 25,594 to 13,008. He said the yes side has gained votes in other towns.


“We have picked up additional votes in nearly every town that has been counted,” said Newell Augur, legal counsel for No on 1. “We are encouraged by these early numbers and we haven’t even started reviewing the ballots from towns that we are most interested in counting.”

The No on 1 campaign has requested to recount ballots from about 30 communities where campaign supporters felt the margins in other races would have suggested a different outcome for Question 1. Ballots from Sanford, South Portland, Portland, Lewiston, Bangor, Scarborough, Old Town, Augusta and Standish were counted during week one.

The recount could take a month to finish and cost up to $500,000, largely in costs for State Police to collect ballots from 503 municipalities.

Boyer said Monday that he didn’t have additional exact numbers available, but said each side had gained a small number of votes. While there was a change of 26 votes in Portland, the changes in other communities are much smaller, he said.

“There’s no real movement whatsoever,” he said. “We’ve counted 16 percent (of ballots) and we’re still ahead by 4,000 votes.”

Augur said the additional no vote total would be “even higher were it not for the high percentage of ballots contested by the pro-marijuana side.” During the first week, the Yes on 1 campaign challenged three times the number of ballots as the No on 1 campaign, he said.


Augur said the Yes on 1 campaign won’t count no votes on ballots where the voter filled in the letter “O” in the word “No” rather than the oval to the left of the word.

“The intention of these voters is clearly against the proposal, but the yes side won’t acknowledge that,” Augur said. “If they are so convinced that their margin is insurmountable, why are they refusing to count these votes?”

Boyer said counters for Yes on 1 dispute ballots that raise concerns, and those are set aside until the voter intent is determined.

“That’s part of the process. Just like they want every ‘no’ vote counted, we want every ‘yes’ vote to be counted,” he said.

Representatives for each campaign have been critical of the other side during the recount process. Last week, the Yes on 1 campaign accused opponents of slowing down the process by not providing volunteers for each of the 10 teams counting ballots. The campaigns are not required by law to provide volunteer counters. There was a slight delay on the first day of counting as the Secretary of State’s Office found state employees to fill in on the counting teams.

Scott Gagnon, chairman of the No on 1 campaign, said legalization proponents are rushing to enact the law.


“The pro-marijuana group seems more interested in getting their commercial marijuana enterprises up and running than making sure we have an accurate count,” he said.

Yes on 1 campaign representatives say opponents are using the recount to delay implementation of a law that was approved with a margin of more than 4,000 votes.

“We’re wasting a lot of taxpayer dollars and a lot of people’s time,” Boyer said.

Question 1 on the Nov. 8 ballot passed by 4,073 votes – 381,692 to 377,619 – according to unofficial results from the Secretary of State’s Office. Opponents did not have to pay for the recount because the margin was so small at less than 1 percent of votes cast.

If the election results stand, the new law will take effect as soon as the first week of January, though the exact date is unclear because the recount must be completed first. The process of reviewing as many as 700,000 ballots from roughly 500 communities could delay implementation even if the review does not uncover enough counting errors to overturn the results.

The new law makes it legal for adults to possess as much as 2.5 ounces of marijuana and grow a limited number of plants. It also allows for retail stores and social clubs, which likely won’t open until 2018 because the state has to develop licensing and regulatory rules.

The recount is scheduled to proceed through Dec. 16, take a break for the holidays and then resume after Jan. 1.

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