Sen. Sanborn bill to clarify local referendum ballots is sent to Gov. Mills

Posted: April 25, 2019 | Senator Heather Sanborn

AUGUSTA — A bill introduced by Sen. Heather Sanborn, D-Portland, LD 53, “An Act To Clarify Local Referendum Ballots” was enacted in the Maine Senate on Tuesday with a unanimous, bipartisan vote.


“I am glad my colleagues in the House and Senate have supported this bill,” said Sen. Sanborn. “It will clarify the numbering system for local ballot questions and avoid the confusion we have faced in past elections.”


State law requires both local and state ballot questions to be listed on the respective local and state ballots with sequential numbers drawn at random. This frequently leads to voter confusion as they are subjected to messaging telling them to “Vote No on Local 2” while urging them to “Vote Yes on State 2”. In 2017, this very issue arose in Portland when the same coalition of affordable housing advocates urged defeat of a local zoning question while also strongly advocating for the state’s expansion of Medicaid. Both questions were listed on the ballot as Question 2. LD 53 would correct this confusion by requiring that municipal initiative and referendum questions be designated on election ballots using sequential letters rather than sequential numbers.


LD 53 will now be sent to Gov. Janet Mills, who has 10 days to sign it, veto it, or allow it to become law without her signature.