PORTLAND, Maine — City officials have revised tallies on six referendum questions, after finding discrepancies in the calculations for absentee ballots affecting 25 percent of the vote.
The revised figures don’t change the outcomes initially reported by the city clerk’s office about 1 a.m. Wednesday. Instead, they widened the margin of victory on five measures pushed by a progressive coalition that sought progressive reforms on wages, housing and policing issues.
A ballot measure to return 400 non-owner occupied short-term rental units to the city’s housing market was defeated by fewer than 250 votes, according to the updated tallies.
On Wednesday afternoon, city staffers acknowledged they had incorrectly input figures for early and absentee votes cast on the referendum.
“They put the total votes in the [early vote] column instead of just the absentees,” city spokesperson Jessica Grondin said. Effectively, this double-counted votes on referendum questions made in-person at voting precincts on Tuesday.
The city fixed the error quickly and reissued the updated figures by 3:45 p.m. Wednesday.
People First Portland claimed a broad victory after initial election results showed voters approved progressive reforms on four of five referendums the coalition backed.
In the final tally, Question A, which raises the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2024, passed with 62 percent of the vote.
Question B, which strengthens a ban on the use of facial recognition software by public employees, passed with 66 percent of the vote.
Question C, a proposal to enact solar and other environmental standards to publicly funded housing units that proponents styled as a “Green New Deal,” passed with 59 percent of the vote.
Question D, a rent-control measure that strengthens tenant protections and indexes rent increases to inflation, passed with 58 percent of the vote.
Question E, the short-term rental measure, failed with 50.3 of voters opposed to it. Opponents of the ballot question drew campaign donations totaling $125,000 from San Francisco tech startup Airbnb in an effort to push back the initiative.
Question F, a referendum question launched by a separate campaign to remove a cap on retail cannabis stores in the city, passed with 53 percent of the vote.