AUGUSTA, Maine — Mainers can vote on three statewide referendums and a range of local races in next week’s election.
Voters looking to cast an absentee ballot instead of going to the polls next Tuesday can request one online until 5 p.m. Thursday. Many towns also have early voting available — check out this schedule from the secretary of state’s office.
Whether you plan to vote absentee, early or on Election Day next week, here is what you need to know about what is on the ballot and how to vote.
Question 1: The corridor referendum
“Do you want to ban the construction of high-impact electric transmission lines in the Upper Kennebec Region and to require the Legislature to approve all other such projects anywhere in Maine, both retroactively to 2020, and to require the Legislature, retroactively to 2014, to approve by a two-thirds vote such projects using public land?”
Question 1, the referendum aiming to block the construction of the Central Maine Power corridor, has been the most expensive ballot question campaign in state history, with more than $86 million flowing in from energy companies on both sides of the issue.
A yes vote would enact the three measures directed at the corridor. A no vote would allow construction on the project to continue unimpeded.
To learn more about the corridor referendum, read the following articles:
Question 2: Transportation bonds
“Do you favor a $100,000,000 bond issue to build or improve roads, bridges, railroads, airports, transit facilities and ports and make other transportation investments, to be used to leverage an estimated $253,000,000 in federal and other funds?”
Question 2 asks voters to approve a $100 million bond to fund transportation projects. Most of the funding from the bond, $85 million, would go toward constructing and preserving highways and bridges, while $15 million would go toward transit, freight and passenger railroads as well as ports and marine transportation.
Mainers have had the chance to vote on a similarly sized transportation bond every year since 2015. Previous bonds have passed by healthy margins. Once again, a yes vote would allow the state to sell the bond and fund these projects, while a no vote would prevent it.
Question 3: Right to food
“Do you favor amending the Constitution of Maine to declare that all individuals have a natural, inherent and unalienable right to grow, raise, harvest, produce and consume the food of their own choosing for their own nourishment, sustenance, bodily health and well-being?”
Question 3 would enshrine a right to food in Maine’s constitution, defined as the “right to growing, raising, harvesting, and producing food, as long as an individual does not commit trespassing, theft, poaching, or abuses to private land, public land, or natural resources.”
Both proponents and opponents of the referendum generally agree that it would have few short-term effects. Supporters argue it could protect essential rights in the future, while detractors have raised concerns about whether it could be used to strike down animal cruelty or food safety laws. A yes vote would add the amendment to Maine’s constitution, while a no vote would leave the constitution as is.
To learn more about the right-to-food referendum, read the following articles:
Many cities and towns also have local elections, including school board and city council races and local referendums. A list of what is on the ballot in some large cities and towns is included below. If your town is not listed, check with your local officials to learn more.
Portland: Voters will select candidates for city council, school board and Portland Water District trustee. There is also a citizen referendum question aiming to cap the size of homeless shelters in the city, which could stop the construction of a proposed shelter in the Riverton neighborhood. See a sample ballot here.
Bangor: Voters have the chance to elect city councilors and school committee officials, as well as decide on two changes to the city’s charter. Read more about the city council race here, the school committee race here, and see a sample ballot here.
Lewiston: There are contested elections for mayor, city council and school committee. See a list of candidates here.
Augusta: Voters in the capital will have the chance to elect a new mayor as well as new city councilors and school board members. Residents of House District 86, which includes most of the city west of the Kennebec River, also get to vote in a special election for state representative, with Democrat Raegan LaRochelle and Republican James Orr vying to replace former Rep. Justin Fecteau, R-Augusta, who resigned earlier this year.
Brewer: There are school committee and city council elections in Brewer, but most of the seats are uncontested. There is one contested race for the district trustee position for Brewer High School.
Old Town: Write-in votes will determine new city councilors. At least seven Old Town residents expressed interest in running as write-in candidates after no one filed to run for city council. Read more about their positions here.
Westbrook: Voters have the chance to elect city councilors and school committee members as well as vote in a referendum on whether to use ranked-choice voting for mayor, school committee and city councilor races in the future. Regardless of the outcome of the referendum, ranked-choice voting does not apply in this year’s elections. See a sample ballot here.
Auburn: Auburn also has mayor, city council and school committee elections, although Mayor Jason Levesque is running unopposed. See a list of candidates for other offices here.
Waterville: Only Ward 7 voters will have the chance to vote in contested elections for the city council and board of education. Ward 1 also has elections for both offices, but they are uncontested. However, all voters in the city get to weigh in on three possible changes to the city’s charter. See a sample ballot here.
Ellsworth: Voters have the chance to weigh in on contested elections for city council, school board and library trustee. See a sample ballot here.
What to know about voting
Polling stations on Election Day are required to open by 8 a.m., though some locations open as early as 6 a.m. All locations must close at 8 p.m., the time that absentee ballots are due. You can look up your polling place using the state’s lookup service, or check with your town clerk.
If you are not yet registered to vote, you may do so at the polls on Tuesday, although you will need to bring some form of identification and proof of residency. A list of documents that are acceptable is available on the secretary of state’s website. If you are already registered, you do not need to present identification to vote in Maine.