Recent and not-so-recent events suggest to me the need for reform of the state referendum process.

Too many special interests have hijacked the referendum process for their gain. (Shawn Scott’s $9 million attempt to secure himself and only himself a casino license certainly leads this category.)

Too often have paid signature gatherers used unsavory tactics to get their question on the ballot. (The group opposing the Central Maine Power corridor may have broken laws to collect enough signatures, but this is hardly the first example.)

Too many times have close votes turned neighbors into enemies and forced the tyranny of a very slight majority onto the rest. (The 59 percent-41 percent passage of Medicaid expansion was a much stronger mandate than the 50.26 percent-49.74 percent passage of marijuana legalization; and lest you think I cry over spilled milk, I supported both.)

To mitigate these issues, I propose the following two reforms: First, increase the threshold for victory in a ballot initiative or people’s veto to 55 percent, to reduce the ability of special interests to get their proposals enacted and ensure a clear mandate for successful referenda. Second, ban paid signature gatherers in referendum campaigns to lessen the incentive to cut corners. These reforms would decrease the animosity of the referendum process and ensure that any initiatives enacted have broad support.

Daniel Smith

North Yarmouth

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