A  flag based on Maine’s original 1901 flag is the front-runner to be the state’s official bicentennial flag.

More than 6,500 people took part in an online survey for the bicentennial flag and 59 percent of them chose the design featuring a pine tree against a field of blue to represent the sky and lighter blue across the bottom to represent water, along with a gold star and a banner carrying the state motto, “Dirigo,” the Secretary of State’s Office said Friday.

Two other designs, one by Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap and the other with the Maine Bicentennial Commission’s logo, lagged far behind in the online voting.

Dunlap will use the results of the survey to help him decide which flag will fly at bicentennial events in 2020, said Kristen Muszynski, a spokeswoman for Dunlap’s office. However, he’s not bound to follow the survey results, she said.

Dunlap is expected to announce the flag design that he favors next week and inform the Legislature and the Bicentennial Commission, she said.

Dunlap’s design featured three fields of white, blue and green and the star and Dirigo banner. The Bicentennial Commission logo flag was white, with the slogan “Maine 200 Leading the Way,” the star and Dirigo banner and the years 1820, when Maine gained statehood, and 2020, the year of the bicentennial. Dunlap’s design was second in the voting and the Bicentennial Commission logo design was third.

The survey followed a failed attempt in March in the Legislature to replace the current state flag, which is the state seal set against a dark blue field, with the 1901 flag. That flag shows a green pine tree and dark blue star set against a buff field. Instead of replacing the state flag, lawmakers directed Dunlap to come up with a bicentennial flag and he decided to seek public input on the choice.

The survey, Dunlap said, will be a major factor in the selection of “a flag we can all rally around as we commemorate this special anniversary of statehood.”

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