Democracy in Action- A preview of the 2011 Election Ballot and Issues

By Rudman Winchell Attorney

Democracy in Action

Election Day arrives in the State of Maine on November 8, 2011. It is important that people exercise their right to vote even though this is an interim election. In addition to local and county elections and initiative questions, there are four state questions on this year’s ballot that require everyone’s attention. The four initiative questions are reprinted below with a brief summary.

We do not take a position on any of these questions; our only advice to you is to cast your vote however you so choose on November 8.

Question 1: People’s Veto: “Do you want to reject the section of Chapter 399 of the Public Laws of 2011 that requires new voters to register to vote at least two business days prior to an election?”

This people’s veto question would reinstate Maine’s 38-year practice of allowing people to register to vote on election day, repealing the June 2011 law that requires a person to register to vote in advance. Under that law, the deadline for registering in person is the third business day prior to the election (by the close of business) or 21 days before election day if by mail.

A “YES” vote will reinstate same-day registration;

A “NO” vote will preserve the current law requiring pre-registration.

 

Question 2: Citizen Initiative: “Do you want to allow a slot machine facility at a harness racing track in Biddeford or another community within 25 miles of Scarborough Downs, subject to local approval, and at a harness racing track in Washington County, with part of the profits from these facilities going to support specific state and local programs?”

This question would amend state law to allow two new slot machine facilities to open upon obtain licenses from the Gambling Control Board – one within 25 miles of Scarborough Downs and another to be operated by a federally recognized Indian tribe, and given the distance requirement from the Bangor facility, it would most likely be in Washington County. The state fiscal note indicates that if passed, the tax structure would dedicate 1% of gross slot machine income to the general fund (an annual estimated amount of $34,138,824) and 39% of net slot machine income to a variety of special purposes (an annual estimated amount of $19,701,336.

A “YES” vote will allow a slot machine facility within 25 miles of Scarborough Downs and another in Washington County;

A “NO” vote will preserve the current law under which the facilities are not allowed.

Question 3: Citizen Initiative: “Do you want to allow a casino with table games and slot machines in Lewiston, with part of the profits going to support specific state and local programs?”

This question would allow a casino with table games and slot machines in Lewiston. The state fiscal note indicates that if passed, the tax structure would dedicate 1% of gross slot machine income to the general fund (an annual estimated amount of $6,534,000) and 40% of net slot machine income to a variety of special purposes (an annual estimated amount of $20,908,800).

A “YES” vote will allow slot machines and table games in Lewiston;

A “NO” vote will preserve the current law under which such a facility is not allowed.

Question 4: Constitutional Amendment: “Do you favor amending the Constitution of Maine to change the years of redistricting the Maine Legislature, congressional districts and county commissioner districts after 2013 from 2023 and every 10th year thereafter to 2021 and every 10th year thereafter?”

The Maine Constitution currently requires that legislative districts be redrawn based on census data every ten years. The new districts must be approved by a 2/3 vote of the Legislature or else the Maine Supreme Judicial Court makes the decision. Review of congressional districts and county commissioner districts is conducted in a similar manner, but by statute rather than the Maine Constitution. This amendment would incorporate the congressional and county redistricting into the Maine Constitution.

This proposed amendment would align redistricting with the federal census, switching the timing of redistricting from the third year of each decade to the first year, which is the year following the census.

A “YES” vote will allow amend the Maine Constitution;

A “NO” vote will reject the proposed amendment.

For additional information, see http://www.maine.gov/sos/cec/elec/2011/nov11citizensguide.pdf (referenda questions with proposed implementing statutory language and fiscal notes).

Disclaimer


These materials have been prepared by Rudman Winchell for educational purposes only. They should not be considered legal advice. The transmission of this information to you is not intended to create a lawyer-client relationship. Readers should not act upon this information without seeking professional counsel. You should not send any confidential or private information to Rudman Winchell until a formal attorney-client relationship has been established, in writing.