Good Election Day morning. Here’s our guide to the Maine elections and here’s the live blog that will house news, commentary and election results tonight. As if that’s not enough to think about, the focus is already shifting to a possible future election.
In focus today at the polls — again — will be the way we cast our ballots. Proponents of ranked-choice voting, the system that Mainers backed in a referendum last year in which voters choose multiple candidates in order of preference, will be back at the polls on Tuesday. They’re trying to use Maine’s people’s veto process to repeal a new law that Gov. Paul LePage allowed to take effect without his signature. It delays the system’s implementation amid constitutional concerns and would kill it by 2021 if nothing happens. Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap issued petitions for the people’s veto effort on Monday.
They have a lot of work to do, but the campaign’s leader reports momentum. The Committee for Ranked Choice Voting, which led the 2016 campaign, now has 90 days to gather more than 61,000 signatures that would qualify the people’s veto for the June 2018 ballot. Election Day provides a target-rich opportunity to collect signatures. Kyle Bailey, the effort’s campaign manager, said his group went to printers across the state at 5 p.m. yesterday and that people distributed them “all night,” with 100 people signing up to volunteer yesterday alone. In all, he said 400 people will collect signatures across the state today.
Who’s going to win Maine’s biggest races?
It’s harder than usual to predict in this low-key election. There has been little polling in this year’s race and Dunlap’s office has estimated that turnout could be less than 30 percent. There are four statewide ballot questions and major local questions as well — particularly the proposed merger of Lewiston and Auburn and other elections in Portland and Bangor.
But we can make some educated guesses about Maine’s four referendum questions. There has only been one comprehensive public poll in the 2017 election so far, which was taken across the month of October by Critical Insights. One warning: It measured registered and not likely voters, so it’s unclear whether this sample will reflect the voting population on Tuesday. But it said Medicaid expansion — Question 2 and the first referendum in the U.S. on that issue — had 69 percent support. The York County casino bid in Question 1 had only 40 percent support. The $105 million transportation bond in Question 3 is virtually assured to pass given Maine’s history and had 68 percent support. And voters are puzzled by Question 4, a constitutional amendment to save money in Maine’s pension system, with 39 percent saying they don’t know how they’ll vote.
Collins’ diabetes bill wins Trump’s approval
President Donald Trump signed a bill co-sponsored by Sen. Susan Collins. The bill, which the Maine Republican wrote with Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-New Hampshire, establishes a national commission of health care experts on diabetes. The goal of the commission would be to find improvements in education, care delivery and patient outcomes. The National Clinical Care Commission Act, passed the House and Senate earlier this year and was signed by Trump last week. Nearly 26 million Americans have diabetes and another 79 million have pre-diabetes. Collins and Shaheen co-chair the Senate Diabetes Caucus.
- Gov. Paul LePage’s veto of the marijuana sales bill stood on Monday. The Maine House of Representatives voted 74-62 against LePage’s veto — with most House Republicans supporting the veto — but it wasn’t enough to meet the necessary two-thirds threshold to override the veto. That leaves the marijuana sales system in Maine in limbo, with current law calling for it to launch by Feb. 1, 2018. That timing is much too fast for state agencies so legislative action will likely be necessary in January if the system is going to get running anytime soon.
- Maine realtors are wary about the tax reform proposal pending in Congress. Several of them told the Bangor Daily News that they fear some of the proposals, such as reducing mortgage interest deductions, could dry up Maine’s vacation home market and threaten home equity lines of credit for homeowners.
- There are elections today to watch all over the country. Governor’s races in Virginia and New Jersey, a number of mayoral seats up for grabs and high-profile state-level questions offer the most chance for drama in 2017’s off-year elections. Here’s an NPR primer to catch you up on the national Election Day landscape.
- Cat that crashed President Bush’s Kennebunkport compound lost, found 120 miles away. Romeo the cat was missing for a year and presumed dead, but he was famous among locals for his wandering ways. Last fall, he killed a yellow warbler, deposited it with his owner and disappeared. Where did Romeo turn up? Why, Skowhegan of course. Here’s his soundtrack.
You’ve seen Jesus in a grilled cheese sandwich…
… and now we’ve found President Donald Trump’s face in a dog’s ear cyst. There’s a fundraiser to have it removed.
That is all. Here’s your soundtrack. — Robert Long
Today’s Daily Brief was written by Christopher Cousins and Michael Shepherd and edited by Robert Long. If you’re reading it on the BDN’s website or were forwarded it, click here to get Maine’s only newsletter on state politics via email on weekday mornings.