Last in a series

Maine voters will consider four changes to the state’s constitution on Nov. 7. Here are the facts about Questions 5 through 8.

What is Question 5?

Do you favor amending the Constitution of Maine to change the time period for judicial review of the validity of written petitions from within 100 days from the date of filing to within 100 business days from the date of filing of a written petition in the Office of the Secretary of State, with an exception for petitions filed within 30 calendar days before or after a general election?

Question 5 would expand the maximum time allowed for the Secretary of State’s Office to review whether a citizens petition has enough valid signatures to qualify for a ballot and for the courts to review any challenges. Extending the deadline from 100 calendar days to 100 business days from the date of filing provides about 40 additional calendar days.

The change is intended to reduce the burden on state election workers, especially during election season, and prevent the office from having to reassign staff from other duties.


The Office of Fiscal and Program Review said the proposal comes with no cost impact, although it is expected to reduce overtime costs.

What is Question 6?

Do you favor amending the Constitution of Maine to require that all of the provisions of the Constitution be included in the official printed copies of the Constitution prepared by the Secretary of State?

Question 6 would repeal language in the Maine Constitution that requires Sections 1, 2 and 5 of Article X to be omitted in official printed copies even though they were never repealed. Sections 1 and 2 contain details pertaining to the convening of the first Maine Legislature in 1821, including a schedule for its election and convening and special terms of office for elected officials. Section 5 includes the rights and obligations of Maine and Massachusetts relating to separation, including tribal obligations.

If the question were to pass, the currently omitted sections – which are still in legal effect – would need to be included in official printings of the constitution.

Why aren’t these sections printed now? 


A constitutional amendment approved in 1875 redacted them from printing, but it’s unclear why.

Minutes from the Constitutional Commission of 1875 only include the proposed language of the constitutional amendment and the votes taken. They don’t include the reasoning behind the proposed change, according to Maine State Archivist Kate McBrien.

In a 2021 article in Maine History, historian Catherine Burns suggests that Maine officials decided to redact Section 5 to avoid potential costs associated with a land dispute before the Maine Supreme Judicial Court involving an island included in the Passamaquoddy Tribe’s 1794 treaty with Massachusetts.

A different 2021 report from Maine lawyer Judson Esty-Kendall and law student Rachel T. Hampson challenged that theory and said it’s hard to know for sure because records from the time are limited.

That report said then-Gov. Nelson Dingley noted in urging the Legislature to undertake a review only that “the Constitution with its amendments was poorly organized, had ‘out-of-date shreds’ ” and needed to be revised in order to be more readable and accessible.

Does printing these sections have any practical impact? 


Maulian Bryant, Penobscot Nation tribal ambassador and president of the board of directors for the Wabanaki Alliance, said that in day-to-day life, Question 6 “wouldn’t do a whole lot,” but tribes in Maine still think it’s significant.

“It’s good to see we were important enough to be written into the constitution and it’s really the basis for our relationship with the state government,” Bryant said. “It sends sort of a not-so-great murky message to us if this is kind of just ignored and locked away, and it’s not transparent.”

Maine Attorney General Aaron Frey said Question 6 is about transparency. “Restoring provisions of the constitution into the written document will not change the legal status of those provisions, but will ensure that the document as printed is complete and fully accessible to the public,” he said.

Maine Speaker of the House Rachel Talbot Ross, D- Portland, introduced the legislation that led to Question 6 and said: “I firmly believe this document should not contain hidden sections, especially those that are fully in effect.”

Is there any opposition to Question 6?

A spokesperson for Gov. Janet Mills said the governor is not planning on weighing in on this or most other ballot questions.


But Mills’ office opposed putting the question to voters in the first place and submitted testimony against the legislation in March, saying at the time that it “appears to be a misguided attempt to right a historic wrong that never occurred.”

The governor’s office also said passing Question 6 would contribute to confusion over the rights and responsibilities of the state and Wabanaki Nations, which it said are defined not by treaties inherited from Massachusetts but by state and federal statutes that codify the Maine Indian Land Claims Settlement of 1980. “Any legislation that could be interpreted as invoking ancient treaties as the legal basis for modern obligations would be confusing and potentially destabilizing,” the office wrote.

Bryant said there is ongoing debate about the impact of Section 5. “We don’t think we gave up all our treaty rights when we signed the land claims. … If it’s printed, it doesn’t necessarily clear it up, but it makes it so we can all see it,” she said.

What is Question 7?

Do you favor amending the Constitution of Maine to remove a provision requiring a circulator of a citizen’s initiative or people’s veto petition to be a resident of Maine and a registered voter in Maine, requirements that have been ruled unconstitutional in federal court?

Question 7 would remove a provision requiring circulators of petitions for a citizen’s initiative or people’s veto effort to be a resident of Maine and registered to vote in the state. It is in response to a ruling in a 2020 federal court case that says the residency and registration requirements may no longer be enforced, the Department of the Secretary of State said.


Even if the question fails, the office will continue to not enforce the requirements based on the court ruling.

What is Question 8?

Do you favor amending the Constitution of Maine to remove a provision prohibiting a person under guardianship for reasons of mental illness from voting for Governor, Senators and Representatives, which the United States District Court for the District of Maine found violates the United States Constitution and federal law?

Question 8 would remove a provision stating that people under guardianships because of mental illness are not qualified to vote for state offices. It follows a 2000 federal lawsuit challenging the provision under the U.S. Constitution and federal Americans with Disabilities Act. The court ruled in 2001 in favor of the plaintiffs, and as a result the state no longer enforces the restriction.

Regardless of the outcome, the secretary of state’s office has said the state will continue to not enforce the provision.

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