Currently showing posts tagged Elections in Maine

  • Maine Secretary Dunlap schedules hearing to consider new evidence in Linn petition challenge

    Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap will revisit the challenge to U.S. Senate candidate Max Patrick Linn’s candidate petitions, per order of the Kennebec County Superior Court, re-opening the hearing to consider new evidence presented by the challenger as well as any relevant evidence presented by the candidate.

    The challenge hearing is scheduled for 9 a.m. on Tuesday, April 24 in Room 300 of the Cross State Office Building, Augusta.

    The original challenge to Linn’s petitions was filed on behalf of David Boyer and the Eric Brakey for Senate campaign Thursday, March 22, alleging that Linn should be disqualified from appearing on the June 12, 2018 Primary Election ballot.

    Secretary Dunlap presided over the challenge hearing on Thursday, March 29, 2018 in Augusta. In his decision of April 5, Dunlap found the challenger had presented sufficient evidence to invalidate the signatures of 230 voters, but concluded that the petition and consent form still met the legal requirements to allow Linn to appear on the ballot.

    The Brakey campaign appealed the decision to the Kennebec County Superior Court and subsequently filed a motion to take additional evidence relevant to the challenge. On Friday, April 20, Justice William R. Stokes granted the challenger’s motion and ordered Secretary Dunlap to reopen the challenge hearing to consider new evidence. 

    Secretary Dunlap will issue an updated decision, which will be reported to the Court by Wednesday, April 25, along with any additions to the agency record. Justice Stokes is expected to hear oral argument on Wednesday at 11 a.m. and thereafter to issue a decision on the appeal.  

  • Maine public comment period now open on proposed wording of referendum questions

    Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap is now accepting comments on the proposed wording of the two citizens’ initiative questions that will appear on the Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017 Referendum Election ballot. Below is the title of each initiative, as it is drafted to appear on the ballot:

    •  An Act To Allow Slot Machines or a Casino in York County. “Do you want to allow a certain out-of-state company to operate table games and/or slot machines in York County, subject to state and local approval, with part of the profits going to specific programs?”
    •  An Act To Enhance Access to Affordable Health Care. “Do you want Maine to provide health insurance through Medicaid for qualified adults under age 65 with incomes at or below 138 percent of the federal poverty line (which is now about $16,000 for a single person and $22,000 for a family of two)?”

    The full text of each initiative is available for viewing on the Bureau of Corporations, Elections and Commissions’ Upcoming Elections webpage.

    State law requires Secretary Dunlap to present the question “concisely and intelligibly.” He will be accepting public comments regarding the questions’ form and content for a 30-day period, beginning today, Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2017 until 5 p.m. on Sept. 1, 2017. Comments should be related specifically to the wording of the question, rather than the merits of the proposed law. Those who wish to comment on the wording may do so via email, mail or in person:

    •  Email and please use “public comment” and the name of the ballot question in the subject line
    •  Mail comments to the Secretary of State, Attn: Public Comment, 148 State House Station, Augusta, ME 04333-0148
    •  Drop off written comments to the office of the secretary of state at the Nash School Building, 103 Sewall St., 2nd floor, Augusta, Maine.
  • Ranked-choice voting a poor method to empower voters

    Editorial by Gordon Weil

    Suppose you regret the election of Gov. Paul LePage, seeing it as the result of his opposition vote being split between two other major candidates. 

    One solution, you think, might be ranked-choice voting, believing that way another candidate would have defeated LePage, despite his having the most first-place votes.

    There are at least four other ways of dealing with plurality elections. They are less unusual, less complicated and more transparent. They are all less costly. And they are less dangerous to real democracy.

    The runoff election. The most obvious is the runoff, a second-round election between the two top vote-getters when nobody wins a majority. Unlike ranked-choice voting, runoffs exist in several other states.

    The runoff allows for a second round of campaigning, giving voters a close look at the finalists and a real choice.

    In 2015, the five-candidate Lewiston mayoral race failed to produce a majority winner, so the city held a runoff between the top two vote-getters. The second-place finisher in the first round was elected after a fresh discussion of the issues and with voters for three other candidates making a new choice.

    Critics say second-round runoffs have lower voter turnouts. In Lewiston, the turnout for the first election, conducted at the same time as other issues, including state ballot items, was 8,332. The turnout for the runoff, an election involving only the two mayoral candidates, was 8,229, with only about 100 fewer voters turning out.

    As for cost, if we assume runoffs require as much as a general election, in a nonpresidential year the Maine secretary of state’s office says that the state’s election cost has reached $247,931, or 41 cents per voter. So that could be the cost of a runoff.

    What voters would buy is a real chance to vote, the most important role most people play in a democracy. Is a real election worth much less than the cost of a candy bar?

    The secretary of state’s office estimates that ranked-choice voting in the first year would cost $910,000, about $1.61 per voter. The added expenses would cover tabulating equipment, printing, temporary employees and ballot transportation. Similar costs would be imposed by each ranked-choice election.

    In short, ranked-choice voting alone would cost more, almost four times the cost of a runoff.

    Top-two primary. All candidates run against each other in the primary, and the top two finishers go onto the election ballot.

    There are no party primaries. The result may even be that two candidates of the same party or with similar views face each other in the election. In contrast, runoff elections are usually between candidates of different parties.

    This system has real advantages. It could cut state and municipal expenses for tabulation of two political party primaries in June, when parties select their candidates for state and federal office. It prevents split voting from affecting the result. It’s used in California and a few other states.

    In Maine, that system could have yielded an election between LePage and independent Eliot Cutler in 2010 and between LePage and Democrat Mike Michaud in 2014.

    Plural nomination. A candidate may appear more than once on the ballot. That could allow a candidate to run as both a party nominee and an independent.

    In closely contested elections in recent decades, the candidates for governor were a Republican, a Democrat and a former Democrat running as an independent. These independents were Jim Longley, the 1974 winner, Angus King, who won in 1994 and 1998, and Cutler in the two LePage elections.

    Though he ran as an independent for the U.S. Senate, King usually votes with Senate Democrats. Recently, he joined Maine Democrats in welcoming Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, the party’s vice presidential candidate. He could run as a Democrat in 2018, probably a good idea for the party, which would want a strong Senate candidate on the ballot to help the rest of the ticket.

    Right now in Maine, a candidate can only appear once on the ballot. Would King give up his independent line on the ballot?

    This alternative, also called “electoral fusion,” would require only minor legislative changes and could prove a viable alternative to ranked-choice voting. A candidate like King could run on two different lines on the ballot, Democrat and independent, avoiding a split that LePage might try to exploit.

    This procedure is authorized in nine states and has been frequently used in New York. Earl Warren was elected this way as governor of California and went on to be chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

    What all these voting methods have in common is they are used in other states, and they are part of the American political tradition, while ranked-choice voting is not used in any American statewide, congressional or state legislative election. They all accomplish the same purpose sought by ranked-choice advocates.

    Status quo. The best solution is probably to stick with the current use of plurality elections, also used by the overwhelming majority of states. The person with the most votes is elected. Of course, a candidate lacking a first-round majority may win, but that’s also true in ranked-choice voting.  

    And today’s system avoids more than $910,000 in the added costs of ranked-choice voting. The system imposes an obligation on voters to be aware of the risks of divided opposition. The media and civic groups must do a better job of educating and informing voters on those risks.

    In the current system, the voters must inform themselves and then decide. While there are workable alternative methods, ranked-choice voting — untested in state or federal elections — is an unsatisfactory substitute for widely accepted ways of providing real voter choice.

    Gordon Weil is a former Harpswell selectman and state official who headed three state agencies under Gov. Joseph Brennan. Weil also was a correspondent for the Washington Post. He lives in Harpswell.

  • Former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell endorses Emily Cain, praises Hillary

    “Emily Cain is on the side of Maine’s working families," said Former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, seated directly next to Cain, on the left.

    By Ramona du Houx

    In Lewiston, former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell endorsed Emily Cain in her campaign for Maine's 2nd Congressional District.

    “Emily Cain is on the side of Maine’s working families. Emily has an incredible record of success breaking through partisan gridlock and special interests to reduce the burdens on Mainers and stop our jobs from going overseas. Her bipartisan work with Governor LePage to pass balanced budgets with tax cuts for families and businesses was exemplary, and in Congress she will be an effective and tireless advocate for working Mainers,” said Senator Mitchell.

    Together, they visited with voters at Simones' Hot Dog Stand, held a rally and toured the L/A Museum.

    The museum is dedicated to preserving the economic and social history of the L/A area, and both Emily and Senator Mitchell spoke about growing jobs at home instead of letting jobs migrate overseas and how we must retake control of our economic future.

    He commented about Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton's presidental run.

    “She’ll be able to hit the ground running and deal with the many serious issues that we face in our country,” said Mitchell. “Trump wants to take the country backwards and going backwards doesn’t deal with our problems. I believe that, come Election Day, a majority of Americans will understand that, act on that and elect Hillary Clinton as president.”

    Senator George Mitchell has had a long and distinguished career. He served for several years as Chairman of DLA Piper, now Chairman Emeritus. Before that he served as a federal judge; as Majority Leader of the United States Senate; as Chairman of peace negotiations in Northern Ireland which resulted in an agreement that ended an historic conflict; and most recently as U.S. Special Envoy to the Middle East. In 2008 Time Magazine described him as one of the 100 most influential people in the world.

    But what Mitchell said he was most proud of is his Mitchell Institute.

    The Mitchell Institute has given two scholarships for two highschool graduates or a $1,000 each from EVERY Maine high school since 1998. Thousands of young people have be encouraged and helped along their way to college, backed by the Mitchell Institute.

  • Maine Democrats set to take back State Senate as primary results roll in

    By Ramona du Houx

    With primary results flooding in, it’s becoming clearer that the Maine State Senate has a good opportunity to take back the Senate this November. Strong Democratic nominees are now on the ticket to face Republican challengers. Presidential election years traditionally bring out more voters. And in Maine, more voters at the polls, more often than not, means Democratic victories.

    “We’re proud of the many Democrats who stepped up to serve their communities by running for office this year. The level of interest in our caucus and primary process has driven Democratic voter registration over the last few months – with the number of new or updated Democratic registrations more than doubling those of Republicans,” said Maine Democratic Party Chairman Phil Bartlett. “We are excited to welcome these thousands of new Democrats to our party, and we look forward to our continued conversations in every corner of the state as we fight to ensure the voices of working Mainers are heard.”

    Major results from the June 14, 2016 primary—

    State Rep. Ben Chipman cruised to victory in the Democratic primary for Maine Senate District 27 in Portland, on June 14, 2016 against Dr. Charles Radis and Rep. Diane Russell, a fourth-term lawmaker. Russell’s eked out 23 percent in the Portland race.

    Chipman will run in November against Republican Mark Lockman and the Green Independent Party’s Seth Baker.

    In the five other Democratic primaries for the Maine Senate:

    Rep. Mark Dion was leading with 51 percent of votes to Portland City Councilor Jill Duson’s 42 percent and former Rep. Ann Peoples of Westbrook with 6 percent in the race for the open seat in District 28.

    Rep. Justin Chenette beat Rep. Barry Hobbins for the nomination to the seat to be vacated by Sen. Linda Valentino in District 31.

    Surry nurse Moira O’Neill beat Former legislator Ted Koffman with 65 percent of the vote and will face Sen. Brian Langley, R-Ellsworth in November.

    Shenna Bellows of Manchester declared victory over Gardiner City Councilor Terry Berry in Senate District 14 in southern Kennebec County, with 82 percent of votes. Sen. Earle McCormick, R-West Gardiner, is leaving the seat.

    Sen. Susan Deschambault of Biddeford will beat former Mayor Joanne Twomey with 85 percent of votes in Senate District 32 in York County from Kennebunkport to Lyman. Deschambault will face Republican Steve Martin of Biddeford.


  • Citizens’ initiative for firearms background checks found valid with 65,821 signatures

    The citizens’ initiative petition effort to consider additional requirements for background checks in the sale of firearms has been found valid, Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap confirmed on February 18, 2016.

    The petitions for “An Act to Require Background Checks for Gun Sales” had been in circulation since Oct. 13, 2015.  On Jan. 19, 2016, the Bureau of Corporations, Elections and Commissions received 19,986 petition forms with 84,602 signatures of those who support the initiative.

    Staff members at the Bureau of Corporations, Elections and Commissions have completed the process of certifying all of the petitions and have found 65,821 valid signatures, while 18,781 were not valid. A minimum of 61,123 signatures from registered Maine voters is required in the citizens’ initiative process, thus the petition has been deemed valid by Secretary Dunlap.

    The initiative to institute additional requirements for background checks in firearm sales will now go to the Legislature for consideration, per the provisions of the Maine Constitution. The Legislature can choose to enact the bill as written or to send it forward to a statewide vote in November 2016. 

    The legislation proposes requiring a background check before a firearm sale or transfer between individuals who are not licensed as firearm dealers. The parties would be required to meet at a licensed firearm dealer, who would conduct a background check on the transferee and complete the sale. Exceptions are included in the proposed legislation for transfers between family members, while the parties are hunting or sport shooting, for emergency self-defense and some other circumstances. Visit to view the proposed legislation in its entirety.


  • New accessible voting devices to debut at Maine's June primary

    The State of Maine will be implementing the use of new ballot-marking devices in the upcoming elections that will improve the experience for voters with disabilities.

    Following an in-depth bidding and review process, the Department of the Secretary of State’s Bureau of Corporations, Elections and Commissions has chosen the ExpressVote system, a product of Election Systems and Software, LLC, as its accessible voting platform.

    The ExpressVote consists of a single unit with a video display screen and built-in ballot printer, with a controller attached. It is designed to accommodate any voter by offering both an audio and visual ballot, allowing a voter to make ballot selections by touching the screen or by using a controller that has uniquely shaped and colored buttons, with Braille labels. It also has the capability to accommodate various other assistive devices. When the voter is finished making the selections, the system prints a ballot marked with the voter’s choices.

    “There are few things more sacred in a democracy than the right to vote,” said Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap. “This system, under the intent of the law, allows people with physical challenges, as much as possible, to vote without assistance –  ensuring not only their right to vote, but also their right to a secret ballot.

    “This is an aspect of the Help America Vote Act that we feel very strongly about, and we are excited by the new developments in technology,” said Dunlap.

    The state’s current method of compliance with the federal Help America Vote Act of 2002 consists of a phone line that allows voters with disabilities to listen to an audio ballot and select the choices by pressing a button. The ExpressVote units will represent a significant upgrade in the user experience, providing both an audio and a visual ballot, and allowing voters to “move around” on the ballot just as they would with a traditional, printed ballot.

    The decision to choose the ExpressVote was made by an evaluation team that included several Elections Division staff members, municipal clerks and advocates for people with disabilities. Integral to the team’s decision was the feedback from voters with disabilities who volunteered their time to test the technology. 

    The ExpressVote is expected to be debuted at the June primaries. The accessible voting system can be used by any voter and will be available at all voting places.

  • Don't say you won't vote for Hillary because people say she's not a progressive

    Have I mentioned lately how much I'm enjoying the lectures from self-avowed liberals who insist my respect for Hillary Clinton is proof that I am not a "real progressive"?

    PHOTO: Hillary Clinton pledging her full support for Barack Obama in the 2008 convention, asking all her supporters to back Obama's race for the White House, photo by Ramona du Houx

    It's not just men — my sisters, you disappoint me — but it's particularly entertaining when the reprimands come from young white men who were still braying for their blankies when I started getting paid to give my opinion. They popped out special, I guess.

    I became a columnist in the fall of 2002. Immediately, I found myself on the receiving end of right-wing vitriol so vile it made "The Sopranos" cuddly by comparison. My first death threats came within weeks, after I wrote that the Confederate flag should be retired. After I supported stronger gun control measures, an NRA zealot posted on a gun blog what he thought was my home address and identified me as "unarmed." I was a single mother at the time. I bought new locks and kept writing.

    But by all means, do tell me what I don't understand about being a progressive.

    First, though, let me tell you what you clearly don't understand about me.

    I am a 58-year-old wife, mother and grandmother, who first knew I was a feminist at 17. I was a waitress at a family restaurant and a local banker thought he could stick his hand up my skirt because my hands were full of dinner. In the time it took me to deposit that steaming pile of pasta onto his lap, I realized I was never going to be that girl.

    Like so many other women, I soon learned that knowing who you are is no small victory, but making it clear to the rest of the world is one of the hardest and longest nonpaying jobs a woman will ever have.

    It helped — it still helps — that my working-class parents raised me to be ready for the fight. My father was a union utility worker, my mother a nurse's aide. Both of them died in their 60s, living just long enough to see all of their children graduate from college and start their lives. I've said many times that my parents did the kind of work that wore their bodies out so that we would never have to. That, too, is my legacy.

    But, please, tell me again how I don't know what it means to be a progressive.

    Last month, I started teaching journalism at Kent State University. One of the first things I did was to lug to my office the large metal sign that used to hang over the tool shed at my father's plant. "THE BEST SAFETY DEVICE IS A CAREFUL MAN," it reads. Nice try, management.

    I'm stickin' with the union, Woody Guthrie sang.

    Every time I walk into my office, that sign is the first thing I see. Remember, it whispers.

    What does any of this have to do with why I admire Hillary Clinton? Nothing. But it has everything to do with why I don't need any lecture from somebody who thinks he or she is going to tell me who I am.

    One of the hallmarks of a progressive is a willingness to challenge a power structure that leaves too many people looking up and seeing the bottom of a boot. I want power for the people who don't have it. And for the rest of my conscious days, I will do my small part to help get it. I love it when detractors describe Clinton as too angry and not "warm and fuzzy" enough. I want a leader, not a Pooh Bear.

    I don't want to diminish anyone who supports Bernie Sanders. I'm married to Sanders' colleague, Sen. Sherrod Brown, which is how I've gotten to know him during the past 10 years. He's a good man.

    If you support Sanders in this Democratic presidential primary, I don't assume that you hate women.

    See how that works?

    But if you tell me that, should Sanders lose, you won't vote for Hillary Clinton, then stop calling yourself a liberal or a progressive or anything other than someone invested in just getting your way.

    There is so much at stake here. The fight for women's reproductive rights is not a sporting event. Our cities are rife with racial tensions, and too few of us white Americans fail to see this as our problem, too. The Affordable Care Act is not enough, but it is the first fragile steps toward universal health care. It is already saving lives of people who had nothing — no health care, no safety net, nothing — before it passed.

    Finally, the growing gulf between the obscenely privileged and everyone else is a reason to get out of bed every morning — if we care about the future of the people we are supposed to be fighting for.

    If you would sacrifice those who need us most because you didn't get your way, then please, save me your lectures and get out of my way.

  • Clinton/Sanders/O'Malley tonight in town hall

    With just a week left until the Iowa caucuses, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Martin O'Malley will make their closing arguments today, in a town hall hosted by the Iowa Democratic Party and Drake University and aired on CNN.

    The event, moderated by CNN anchor Chris Cuomo, will air from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. ET and comes as Clinton and Sanders are neck and neck in the polls.

  • Labor organizations oppose Portland’s Question 2

    Cape Elizabeth lighthouse, Portland Maine, photo by Ramona du Houx 

    The Maine State Building and Construction Trades Council announced its opposition to Portland’s Question 2, joining a growing coalition that includes the Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce, Portland Community Chamber, AARP Maine, Homeless Voices for Justice, GrowSmart Maine, Avesta Housing and members of Portland’s fast-growing entrepreneurial business community.

    “Portland is a great city, but we have to make sure that it continues to be a place where working families can find jobs and afford to live,” said President John Napolitano, who grew up on Munjoy Hill. “Portland’s Question 2 will hurt the entire city, making it harder for people to live and work here and creating unreasonable new hurdles for good projects. Our 4,000 workers around Maine are ready to get involved, knock on doors and spread the word that Portland’s Question 2 is bad for middle-class families and working men and women.”

    The Maine State Building and Construction Trades Council (MSBCTC) was chartered on Jan. 21, 1964, and represents 13 Trade Unions and more than 4,000 workers throughout Maine. MSBCTC is affiliated with Building & Construction Trades Department, AFL-CIO.

    “Portland is taking off as a place where entrepreneurs and startups can be successful, but backwards looking ordinances like Portland’s Question 2 threaten that,” said Jess Knox, co-chair of the No on 2 campaign. “Our city needs to be open to new ideas and thoughtful development. Portland’s Question 2 goes too far and hurts existing businesses and the people who are trying to start new ones.”

    Question 2 would amend the city’s land use ordinances and make it possible for one “affected” property owner or as few as 20 petition signers to block or delay good building projects in the city. In addition, it creates new and unnecessary bureaucracy. 

    “Working men and women should oppose Portland’s Question 2,” Napolitano said. “This ordinance will slow down the economy and cost the city jobs.”

    Affiliated members of the Trade Council include:

    • International Brotherhood of Heat and Frost Insulators and Asbestos Workers, Local 6
    • International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers, and Helpers, Local 29
    • International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craft Workers, Local 3
    • International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornament, and Reinforcing Iron Workers, Local 496
    • Laborers International Union of North America, Locals 327
    • International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 4
    • International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, District Council 35
    • United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipefitting Industry of the United States and Canada, Local 716
    • United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers, and Allied Workers, Local 33
    • Sheet Metal Workers' International Association, Local 17
    • Road Sprinkler Fitters, Local 669
    • International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Local 340
    • International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 567 & 1253

    In addition, Iron Workers Local 7 also opposes Portland’s Question 2.

  • Maine election mystery solved- not election fraud just counting 21 ballots twice during recount

    By Ramona du Houx

    Cathy Breen was named the winner of the contested Maine Senate District 25 seat after Cathy Manchester conceded the election. More than six hours of testimony was heard during the Senate’s special elections committee before  Julie Flynn, Deputy Secretary of State, and a detective from the Attorney General’s office opened the police-guarded ballot box from Long Island and reconciled the ballots with the ballot tally sheet. The examination revealed a total of 171 ballots--not the 192 claimed at the recount. It turned out that the 21 phantom ballots were counted twice during the recount.

    “I want to thank the committee for their dogged pursuit of the facts that helped us get to the bottom of the mystery on Long Island. I am grateful and humbled by the outpouring of support from the voters in my district and for Democratic leadership who stood up for the integrity of the electoral process,” said Senator-elect Cathy Breen of Falmouth “Today’s answers will allow us to move forward and get to work on the issues that are important to Mainers.”

    “As legislators one of the most important jobs we have is to preserve the integrity of the electoral system. This was never a political issue for us. It was about getting to the bottom of what happened to cause these voter irregularities,” said Assistant Democratic Leader Dawn Hill of York, who led the Democrats on the special committee. “We knew something wasn’t right and today is a vindication for all of us who stood our ground and stood up for voter integrity.”

    The committee wrapped up after they agreed to a total recount of all the Long Island votes. The recount was led by Senator Bill Diamond, former Secretary of State and  Senator Tom Saviello. The recount once again confirmed a total of 171 ballots with a breakdown of 95 ballots for Cathy Breen, 65 ballots for Cathy Manchester and 11 ballots that were blank.

    “Today’s investigation allowed us to find the answers we needed to solve this mystery,” said Senator Bill Diamond of Windham. “It is reassuring to know that the system held up and that voters can once again have confidence that all votes count--and count only once.”

    Democrats have been calling for an investigation since 21 untraceable or “phantom ballots” appeared at the recount of the SD 25 race but Republicans refused to keep the recount open forcing the investigation to go to the Senate’s special committee. These 21 ballots push the total number of ballots cast in the SD 25 race to 192 ballots--yet there were only 171 voters who voted according to the Long Island voter manifest.

    The 7-member legislative committee includes Democratic Senators Dawn Hill, Bill Diamond, and Stan Gerzofsky and Republican Senators Roger Katz, Tom Saviello, Garrett Mason, Andre Cushing.

    It is expected that the Senate will consider the committee’s recommendation when it reconvenes on January 7.