Maine: An Encyclopedia

Elections, Initiatives

No on Resort Casino Sign, November, 2003

No on Resort Casino Sign, November, 2003

Votes on citizen initiatives since 1911

The state constitution allows citizens to place issues on the statewide ballot by petition. In its first thirty-seven years, only six initiated bills qualified to be placed on a ballot; only two passed.

In the thirty-eight years since 1971, when initiatives returned to popularity, fifty-five initiatives have been presented to the voters. A little less than half (47%) have passed.

Slot machines at race tracks, November, 2003

Slot machines at race tracks, November, 2003

Marriage Equality Opposition November 2012

Marriage Equality Opposition November 2012

Anti Bear Hunting Election Campaign Sign (2014)

Anti Bear Hunting Election Campaign Sign (2014)

Twelve initiatives involved taxes or fees. Since the year 2000, eight initiatives have promoted gambling, including casinos; two have passed.

If the legislature does not pass the initiated bill exactly as proposed by the people, it must be placed on a ballot.

The legislature may, however, offer its own “competing” bill to give voters a choice of the initiative, the competing bill, or neither.

According to the Maine Constitution: (Article IV, Part Third, Section 18, 2)

When there are competing bills and neither receives a majority of the votes given for or against both, the one receiving the most votes shall at the next statewide election to be held not less than 60 days after the first vote thereon be submitted by itself if it receives more than 1/3 of the votes given for and against both.

So, if the initiated bill gets 30%, the competing bill gets 30%, and the “neither” option gets 40%, “neither” wins. If the initiated bill or the competing bill gets 51% of the vote, that bill wins.

Yes on 1A sign, "Cut Property Taxes Now!" November, 2003

Yes on 1A, November, 2003

If the initiated bill gets 38%, and the competing bill get 10%, and “neither” gets 52%, “neither” wins.

If the initiated bill gets 37%, and the competing bill gets 20%, and “neither” gets 43%, then the initiated bill alone is placed on a ballot on the next statewide election, but not within 60 days, to be voted YES or NO.

The results below are based on information from the Elections Division, Department of the Secretary of State. See other types of elections.

Issues divided by competing measures were counted as one initiative. Those in bold were passed. Since 1971 all votes were in November unless otherwise noted.

Year Subject Yes No
1911 Nomination of state and county officers by primaries (direct primary law) 65,810 21,774
1923 To establish a forty-eight hour week for women and minors 33,991 53,784
1927 To repeal the direct primary law 20,027 37,114
1933 To raise the tax on corporations distributing and supplying electric power 46,015 90,804
1936 To prevent diversion of the federal highway fund 182,012 52,590
1947* To regulate collective bargaining
1947 Tabb Bill (competing measure) 13,676 126,285
 1947 Barlow Bill (direct Initiative) 46,809 126,285
1971 To repeal the income tax 63,393 190,261
1972 To change form of ballot from party column to office type 110,867 64,506
1973 To create Power Authority of Maine 95,645 151,480
1976 To establish a public preserve in Bigelow Mountain area 85,782 81,915
1977 To repeal the Uniform State Property Tax 124,322 95,413
1979 To repeal the forced deposit law (bottle bill) 41,480 226,687
1980 Shall slot the machine ban become law? 60,757 37,406
 1980 Prohibit generation of electric power by nuclear fission 161,181 233,198
1981 To create the Maine Energy Commission 90,333 144,647
1982 To adjust annually individual income tax laws to eliminate inflation induced increases 240,023 182,939
 1982 To repeal the control of milk prices and the wholesale and retail levels 222,422 232,430
 1982 To end the use of nuclear power for producing electricity in 5 years 201,617 256,124
1983 To repeal the hunting season on moose 121,125 185,603
1985 Low-Level Radioactive Waste Siting Issue (Not a Yes/No vote; rather, a choice of A, B or C)
A. Do you want the right to vote for or against any plan for the storage or disposal of low-level radioactive waste? (I.B.1, LD 615) 86,678 N/A
B. Do you want to vote on any Maine site for disposal of low-level radioactive waste if it is not disposed of safely outside of Maine or at the Maine Yankee site? 45,920 N/A
C. Against both measures 39,893 N/A
Do you want to make it a crime to make, sell, give for value, or otherwise promote obscene material in Maine? 81,970 209,537
1986 November Do you want to ban mandatory local phone service and direct the state to keep flat rate local phone service at as low a cost a possible? 241,894 178,745
1987 Do you want to let any power plant like Maine Yankee operate after July 4,1988, if it makes high level nuclear waste? 235,685 163,375
1989 “Do you favor the changes in Maine Law concerning campaign finances for candidates for Governor, as proposed by citizen petition?” 98,558 126,140
 1989 Do you favor stopping cruise missile tests in Maine? 122,820 112,109
 1989 “Do you approve of the agreement for the disposal of low-level radioactive waste proposed to be made with the Rocky Mountain Low-Level Radioactive Waste Board whose member states are Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Wyoming for disposal of low-level radioactive waste at an existing facility in Beatty, Nevada?” (Referendum Question) 124,618 103,857
1990 “Do you favor the change in Maine Law that would allow all stores a choice to open on Sunday and certain holidays, provided stores in excess of 5000 square feet of selling space do not require their employees to work on such days proposed by citizen petition?” 272,129 246,378
1991 “Do you favor the changes in Maine Law concerning deauthorizing the widening of the Maine turnpike and establishing transportation policy proposed by citizen?” 224,277 156,861
1993 “Do you favor the changes in Maine law concerning limiting the number of terms which may be served by Maine’s State Legislators, Secretary of State, Treasurer, Attorney General and State Auditor proposed by citizen petition?” 159,785 76,732
1994 “Do you favor the changes in Maine law limiting the number of terms which may be served by Maine’s Representatives to the United States Senate proposed by citizen petition?” 312,007 182,192
1995 “Do you favor the changes in Maine law limiting protected classifications, in future state and local laws to race, color sex, physical or mental disability, religion age, ancestry, national origin, familial status, and marital status, and repealing existing laws which expand these classifications as proposed by citizen petition?” 193,938 221,562
1996 “Do you want Maine to require candidates and officials to show support for Congressional term limits or have their refusal printed on the ballot?” 318,119 225,620
 1996 2A: Citizen Initiative “Do you want Maine to ban clearcutting and set other new logging standards?” 175,078** N/A
2B: Competing Measure “Do you want the Compact for Maine’s Forests to become law to promote sustainable forest management practices throughout the State?” 282,620** N/A
2C: Against A and B Against both the Citizen Initiative and the Competing Measure. 139,176 N/A
 1996 “Do you want Maine to adopt new campaign finance laws and give public funding to candidates for state office who agree to spending limits?” 320,755 250,185
1997 “Do you want to reject the law passed by the Legislature and signed by the Governor that would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation with respect to jobs, housing, public accommodations and credit?” 145,452 138,153
1999 “Do you want to ban a specific abortion procedure to be defined in law, except in cases where the life of the mother is in danger?” 185,541 232,113
 1999 “Do you want to allow patients with specific illnesses to grow and use small amounts of marijuana for treatment, as long as such use is approved by a doctor?” 256,387 161,114
2000 “Should a terminally ill adult who is of sound mind be allowed to ask for and receive a doctor’s help to die?” 315,031 332,280
 2000 “Do you favor requiring  landowners to obtain a permit for all clear-cuts and defining cutting levels for lands subject to the Tree Growth Tax Law?” 181,643 459,239
 2000 “Do you want to allow video lottery machines at certain horse racing tracks if 40% of the profits are used for property tax relief?” 253,920 387,872
2003 A. Do you want the State to pay 55% of the cost of public education, which includes all special education costs, for the purpose of shifting costs from the property tax to state resources?B. Do you want to lower property taxes and avoid the need for a significant increase in state taxes by phasing in a 55% state contribution to the cost of public education and by providing expanded property tax relief?

C. Against both the Citizen Initiative and the Competing Measure.    ***

A. 185,392

B. 171,782

C. 133,349



 2003 Do you want to allow slot machines at certain commercial horse racing tracks if part of the proceeds are used to lower prescription drug costs for the elderly and disabled, and for scholarships to the state universities and technical colleges? 272,394 242,490
 2003 Do you want to allow a casino to be run by the Passamaquoddy Tribe and Penobscot Nation if part of the revenue is used for state education and municipal revenue sharing? 170,500 346,583
2004 Do You Want the State to Pay 55% of the Cost of Public Education, which Includes All Special Education Costs, for the Purpose of Shifting Costs from the Property Tax to State Resources? 99,764 81,347
 2004 Do You Want to Limit Property Taxes to 1% of the Assessed Value of the Property? 271,636 458,369
 2004 Do You Want to Make it a Crime to Hunt Bears with Bait, Traps or Dogs, except to Protect Property, Public Safety or for Research? 344,322 389,455
2006 Do You Want to Limit Increases in State and Local Government Spending to the Rate of Inflation Plus Population Growth and to Require Voter Approval for All Tax and Fee Increases? 247,175 288,971
2007 Do you want to allow a Maine tribe to run a harness racing track with slot machines and high-stakes beano games in Washington County?” 130,164 142,458
2008 Do you want to allow a certain Maine company to have the only casino in Maine, to be located in Oxford County, if part of the revenue is used to fund specific state programs? 333,685 389,251
2009 Do you want to cut the rate of the municipal excise tax by an average of 55% on motor vehicles less than six years old and exempt hybrid and other alternative-energy and highly fuel-efficient motor vehicles from sales tax and three years of excise tax? 145,610 416,714
 2009 Do you want to repeal the 2007 law on school district consolidation and restore the laws previously in effect? 228,952 320,334
 2009 Do you want to change the existing formulas that limit state and local government spending and require voter approval by referendum for spending over those limits and for increases in state taxes? 223,059 336,144
 2009 Do you want to change the medical marijuana laws to allow treatment of more medical conditions and to create a regulated system of distribution? 332,038 232,024
2010 Do you want to allow a casino with table games and slot machines at a single site in Oxford County, subject to local approval, with part of the profits going to specific state, local and tribal programs? 284,984 280,211
2011 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? 143,127 248,467
2011 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? 176,718 215,115
2012 Do you want to allow the State of Maine to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples? 372,887 334,723
2014 Do you want to ban the use of bait, dogs or traps in bear hunting except to protect property, public safety, or for research? 281,717 323,007
2015 Do you want to change Maine law to allow publicly financed state candidates to qualify for additional funds under certain limits and rules in the Maine Clean Election Act, to improve the disclosure of who pays for political ads, and to increase penalties for violations of campaign finance law? 119,992 98,343
2016 Do you want to allow the possession and use of marijuana under state law by persons who are at least 21 years of age, and allow the cultivation, manufacture, distribution, testing, and sale of marijuana and marijuana products subject to state regulation, taxation and local ordinance? 381,647 377,574
2016  Do you want to add a 3% tax on individual Maine taxable income above $200,000 to create a state fund that would provide direct support for student learning in kindergarten through 12th grade public education? 388,428 373,848
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This entry was last modified: January 10, 2017 10:44 PM

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