The Coastal Packet: Maine voters have record number of citizen initiatives

Wednesday, June 8

Maine voters have record number of citizen initiatives

MPBN - Maine voters will decide a record five different citizen-initiated ballot questions when they go to the polls in November. The spike follows a national trend of politically active interest groups taking their causes directly to voters after they fail to get results in their legislatures.

When Gov. Paul LePage won a second term two years ago, Ben Chin, political director for the Maine People’s Alliance, knew that his political strategy would have to change.

“After the election we knew we were going to have at least four more years of divided government. To do anything big, we were probably going to have to go the ballot,” he says.

The MPA is just one of several progressive organizations that re-evaluated its plans after the 2014 election. LePage had won despite expensive and vigorous opposition campaigns by the groups. Also, Republicans made significant gains in the state Legislature, taking back control of the Senate.

So groups like the MPA had two choices: Fight a noisy but likely futile battle in the divided Legislature or, Chin says, use the state’s 106-year-old citizen initiative process to take the case directly to voters.

It became an easy decision.

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