The final version of the question that will appear on the November ballot regarding new restrictions on bear hunting was released today by Secretary of State Matt Dunlap. According to a press release, the question will read:
“Do you want to ban the use of bait, dogs or traps in bear hunting except to protect property, public safety, or for research?”
This announcement is ten days after the closing of the public comment period on the draft question. The original draft read as follows: “Do you want to ban bear hunting using bait, traps or dogs except to protect property, public safety or for research?”
This is how the referendum came about:
Under the U.S. Constitution, Maine citizens may apply for a law change through citizen initiative. After making application and finalizing proposed legislation, the Secretary of State issues a final petition form, which the circulators use as a master to copy form and circulate among registered voters. Petitioners must gather a number of signatures equivalent to 10 percent of the vote for governor in the last gubernatorial election. That number is currently 57,277.
On February 3, 2014, petitioners submitted 63,126 valid signatures that then put the legislation before the state legislature. By not enacting the legislation, the matter will now be settled by Maine voters.
The drafting of the ballot question occurs under the supervision of the Secretary of State. After reviewing draft questions with the assistance of the Attorney General and the Volunteer Ballot Question Clarity Advisory Board, the Secretary of State is required to post the question for 30 days for public comment. The Office of the Secretary of State received 1,085 comments on the drafting of the question.
“As usual, we received some very good suggestions,” said Dunlap in a recent press release. “The volume of submissions speaks to how much people care about this process. The redrafting that we have done reflects both the actual language of the legislation and the concerns we received from the public to most accurately reflect that language.”
This question, under the law, will be Question 1 on the referendum ballot. A drawing will be held by the Secretary of State later in the summer to determine the ballot order of the bond issues that will also be decided in November.