Friday, November 24th, 2017

Election day rapidly approaches for Mainers

Posted on November 08, 2017 in News
By USM Free Press

Sarah O’Connor

This year’s election will feature new referendum ranging from health care reformation to state pension amendments. On Election Day, November 7, Maine voters will vote on five statewide ballot measures in the Referendum Elections. They will elect new members of the House of Representatives as some terms have come to an end. Additionally, Portland voters will elect municipal seats, including City Council At-Large.

Referendum Elections’ purpose is to provide citizens to vote on referenda proposed by the Legislature and Constitutional Amendments. The November ballot had four ballot measures.

Question 1 is titled, “An Act To Allow Slot Machines or a Casino in York County.” A public opinion from the “Maine Citizen’s Guide to Referendum Election” states that a “yes” vote would “generate millions of dollars in revenue without raising taxes,” which would allow the state to fund other programs. It would create new jobs and bring in tourism to Maine, nourishing the economic growth of the state. Opposition to question 1 worries about bringing gambling into the state.

Question 2 is titled, “An Act To Enhance Access to Affordable Healthcare.” It questions whether Mainers want to expand Medicaid to provide healthcare coverage for adults under 65 years old with incomes below 138 percent of the federal poverty level. This would be would be approximately 20% of individuals or families in Maine making under $20,000 a year. According to the New York Times, Republican Governor Paul LePage has vetoed expanding access to the program under the Affordable Care Act five times. According to the Commonweath Fund, the uninsured rate of 18-25 year olds in 2016 was 14.5%. There was a huge 2.6% drop since the introduction of the Affordable Healthcare Act. The issue will be voted on by referendum for the first time by voters.

A public opinion on question 2 from the same “Maine Citizen’s Guide” saw that saying “yes” would “expand access to healthcare through the Medicaid program to about 70,000 Mainers” including many individuals in need. They noted it would “fight against opioid addiction and substance abuse,” in an attempt to prevent loss of life as a result of these restricted substances. Portland Press Herald showed the rift between the two sides on the issue of question 2. Business groups in Maine have extreme views. One side sees it as a source of economic benefits and the other side sees it “as a precursor to a tax increase.”

Question 3 is titled, “An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue to Improve Highways, Bridges and Multimodal Facilities and Upgrade Municipal Culverts.” It questions if the voter favors a $150,000,000 bond issue for construction, reconstruction and rehabilitation of highways, bridges, and facilities and equipment, and for the upgrade of municipal culverts at stream crossings. Specifics on the location has not been expressed yet.

Question 4 is titled, “Resolution, Proposing an Amendment to the Constitution of Maine To Reduce Volatility in State Pension Funding Requirements Caused by the Financial Markets.” The “Maine Citizen’s Guide” defines the question as a proposal to authorize an amendment to the “Constitution of Maine to extend the maximum period of time,” from 10 to 20 years, “over which net losses in the market value of the state-funded retirement plans administered by the Maine Public Employees Retirement System must be retired or funded.”

The November 7 ballot votes on positions in the municipal seats for the city of Portland. It’s voting for a seat on the city council and school board for district four and five. There are two seats for Peaks Island. There is one seat for a five year term of the Portland Water District. More notably, there are seats open for the school board at-large seat and the city council at-large.

According to the Portland Press Herald, there are three democratic candidates running for the city council at-large seat. Their views diverge regarding rent limits, housing affordability and moving forward with renovations at the elementary schools at city expense. It has been the most expensive council contest on this upcoming ballot.

The seat is currently held by Jill Duson, 63, who has been on the council for 16 years. Her competitors are Joey Brunelle, 32, and Bree LaCasse, 41. They are looking to intervene their community activism to achieve the three-year term on the council.

According to The Forecaster, the school board race is not especially competitive. Marnie Morrione is seeking re-election for the district 5 seat. Newcomers Timothy Atkinson and Mark Balfantz are running for the district 4 and at-large seat.

Elections for the office of Maine House of Representatives is in 2018. The general election is on November 7, 2017. All 151 voting House seats are up for election, in which they serve two year terms. They are elected every two years. There are 40 races to watch in the 2018 elections. There are 21 democratic seats, 17 republican, and 2 independent seasons. As of October 2017, Democrats hold a slight majority.

Voting occurs at the Gorham Middle School, Little Falls Activity Center, and Shaw Gym at the Gorham Municipal Center. Polling locations are open from 7:00 am to 8:00 pm. Voters must bring a photo I.D. to vote.