The Harbor House, an historic building on Sawyer Square in central Jonesport, contains a hotel and a dental office. Owner Wayne Yee spurred the movement to allow alcohol in local restaurants. Credit: Bill Trotter / BDN

The liquor may still flow in a semi-dry Down East community despite the discovery of a mistake in an alcohol ballot question just two weeks before the November election.

Jonesport put two local option questions on next month’s ballot that, if passed, would allow restaurants to serve alcohol seven days a week. But one of the questions has created confusion and could potentially be challenged because it does not use language required under state law.

When alerted to the discrepancy, selectman William Milliken worried about the vote being invalidated, but fear not thirsty revelers: a spokesperson with the state Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages and Lottery Operations said the error appears to be minor and likely wouldn’t require another vote.

The Jonesport referendums ask if and when residents want to allow restaurants to sell and serve alcohol. The state has several standard ballot questions that towns are supposed to approve if they wish to have beer, wine and liquor.

The first question in Jonesport asks if voters want alcohol sales from Monday to Saturday. The second is supposed to ask if they want to allow it on Sundays.

That’s where the mixup comes in.

The second question on the ballot changes a few words from the state’s language. The Jonesport ballot asks if the town wishes to allow alcohol sales “on all days including Sundays,”  instead of just Sundays alone.

Aside from being out of step with state law, the current town-worded language has led to some confusion and could also result in conflicting directives if one of the questions passes but the other doesn’t.

“The ballot questions are technically in conflict with each other,” said Wayne Yee, a dentist who is opening a restaurant in town and spearheaded a petition to get the alcohol questions before the voters.

As written, voters could theoretically both disallow sales on Monday through Saturday if they vote no on the first question, and then allow them again on those days by voting yes on the second question.

Milliken said concerns over the conflict had been raised before, but he didn’t realize that the language strayed from the state’s ballot questions.

Though Jonesport apparently took some editorial liberty, a spokesperson with the state Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages and Lottery Operations called the difference “minor” and said the agency isn’t anticipating that there will be any issues.

Ideally the wording would have been lifted directly from the state law, but absentee ballots have already been sent out with the incorrect wording, preempting a last-minute fix.

Town officials were already planning to get more information out about the questions due to the preexisting confusion and would likely discuss the ballot more at the selectmen meeting later this week.

Jonesport is one of the several partially or fully dry towns in Washington and Aroostook counties. The fishing community didn’t allow any alcohol sales until 1976, when voted to let alcohol into stores.

Even if the ballot question passes, Jonesport won’t become awash with bars. In 2015, the town passed zoning regulations that ban any establishment that has alcohol sales make up more than one-third of its gross revenue.