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Maine House approves bill to simplify ballot question language on referendums

Rep. John Andrews (R – Paris) is the sponsor of L.D. 534, which institutes requirements that the wording of Maine’s ballot questions be more simple and easy to understand.

AUGUSTA – On June 12, 2016 social media across Maine lit up with voters expressing confusion and disapproval over the wording of a ballot question which was asking if voters wanted to keep parts of the ranked-choice voting law in place, or repeal them under a fix passed by the Maine Legislature.

Some voters even said that even though they had done their research, the wording of the question made them reconsider whether they were voting on the side they intended or not.

That ballot question was unquestionably confusing to hundreds of thousands of Mainers, asking, “Do you want to reject the parts of a new law that would delay the use of ranked-choice voting in the election of candidates for any state or federal office until 2022, and then retain the method only if the constitution is amended by December 1, 2021, to allow ranked-choice voting for candidates in state elections?”

But Rep. John Andrews (R – Paris) is working to end the problem of confusing ballot questions with a bill that was just approved by the Maine House.

Rep. Andrew’s bill, L.D. 534, “An Act to Make Ballot Initiative Questions Easier to Read and Understand for Maine Voters” does the following:

– Requires the Maine Secretary of State to write the question as “simply as possible.”

– Eliminates the requirement that questions for a people’s veto be phrased so that an an affirmative vote is in favor of the people’s veto.

– Requires a brief explanation below the posed question of what effect a ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ vote will have in simple language for referendum questions, people’s veto, direct initiative, bond issue, constitutional amendment, and other legislatively proposed referendum questions.

The Maine House passed L.D. 534 ‘under the hammer’ with unanimous support on Tuesday, and it will now go to the Maine Senate for that chamber’s approval.

You can read the full text of the bill by clicking here.

In addition to Rep. John Andrews as the primary sponsor of the bill, it has nine cosponsors:

Senator Louis Luchini (D – Hancock)
Rep. Kathleen Dillingham (R – Oxford)
Rep. Craig Hickman (D – Winthrop)
Rep. Matthew Moonen (D – Portland)
Rep. Richard Pickett (R – Dixfield)
Rep. Trey Stewart (R – Presque Isle)
Rep. Scott Strom (R – Pittsfield)
Senator Lisa Keim (R – Oxford)
Senator Nate Libby (D – Androscoggin)

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