PORTLAND — It is going to be a full ballot in November. Not only are three City Council and three school board seats up for grabs, voters will have a chance to weigh in on six citizen initiative referendums.

The referendums, if passed by voters Nov. 3, would:

• Incrementally increase minimum wage in the city over the next three years.
• Prohibit the use of facial surveillance technology.
• Restrict short-term rentals to owner-occupied buildings.
• Stabilize rent increases for tenants.
• Reduce the distance between marijuana establishments and remove the current cap.
• Make sure buildings receiving $50,000 or more in public funding are built using the latest in environmental standards.

Except for the marijuana measure, the referendums were organized by People First Portland, an effort of the Southern Maine Democratic Socialists of America.

In order to make sure voters have all the information they need to make informed decisions, the council Monday decided to include a summary of the referendums on the ballots and also to include the full text of the questions in a separate document for those voting via absentee ballot. The full text also will be posted at each of the city’s polling locations, as has been the norm in the past.

“I feel very strongly the full text needs to be there,” Councilor Nick Mavodones said after a lengthy public debate.

City Clerk Kathy Jones will check with the secretary of state’s office to see if the adding the summary and the separate document was permissible. If not, the full text of the referendums, which could run more than a dozen pages, will be included on the ballot. In that case, postage on the absentee ballot return envelope would be prepaid in case voters don’t have the extra stamps needed to get it back to City Hall.

Those who spoke at Monday’s meeting were torn whether the council should include just summaries or the full texts on the ballot.

“I don’t understand how a voter could make a decision on an issue as complicated as these without the entirety of the proposal before them,” said Kathy Palmer, a resident of Monument Street.

Eammonn Dundon, of Stratton Place, said full language with clear summaries is “critical for a fair and transparent voting process.”

Chris Korzen, a Hampshire Street resident, said voters having access to the full language is important because “we are talking about things that will impact the city for years and decades to come.”

Peter McLaughlin, of Peaks Island, however, said the full text on the ballot will just make voting more burdensome.

“We need to make voting as easy as possible,” he said.

Em Burnett feared voters would simply skip over the full text if it is included on the ballot.

“There is an assumption out there that more words lead to more understanding,” Burnett said. “That is not the case.”

Glenn Gallik, of Congress Street, said the full language is not necessary on the ballot because interested voters can read it at the polls or look it up from home. The full texts of the referendums can be found in the Aug. 18 meeting agenda.

For more information about the ballot measures, visit peoplefirstportland.org.

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