Sadly, Maine's opportunity to take the lead and be the first state in the country to endorse gay marriage via referendum was defeated, and the vote wasn't as close as pundits had predicted. One year after California's Proposition 8 struck down gay marriage in the country's largest state, it was hoped that Maine, might counter and endorse same-sex marriage, providing supporters with the political breakthrough they coveted. In the end, the effort was thwarted. Like in California, gay-marriage supporters were outflanked by those wanting to protect "traditional" marriage, and once again, Maine, like California before, with its Proposition 8 referendum, was flooded television ads warning voters that legalizing gay unions could change the way children are taught about marriage in schools, and other misinformation. Even worse, Maine's Catholic Diocese, an organization with no moral authority, used its tax-exempt status and pulpits to lobby against civil rights for all of Maine's citizens.
I found this while surfing for results, a "Love letter to Maine" from a couple that hoped for a different result on Question 1.
Seeking election results, there were some positives for me as the results of the other questions were settled. Both question 2 and question 4, two other measures that I had been following closely were soundly defeated.
Here's the results from Tuesday, with most of Maine's precincts reporting:
With 87 percent of precincts reporting, the campaign to overturn Maine’s same-sex marriage law won with 53 percent of the vote vs. 47 percent opposed to Question 1, according to unofficial results compiled by the Bangor Daily News.
Question 2, one of two tax initiatives on the ballot, was trailing 74 percent to 26 percent as of 1 a.m. with 87 percent of statewide results tallied and it appears that it will be roundly defeated.
Maine voters rejected a move to repeal the state’s school district consolidation law, an initiative that was of greater concern in Maine's rural areas, than in the more populated parts of the state. It was voted down soundly, with a vote count of 284,117 to 201,203 — or 58.5 percent to 41.5 percent — against repealing the law.
Tuesday's vote appeared to have fallen largely along an urban-rural, north-south divide. Voters in Maine's southern counties --where cities and larger towns were largely exempted from merger requirements -- voted to keep the law.
Northern counties, where dozens of towns found themselves out of compliance with the law -- and now face more than $5 million in penalties starting July 1 -- voted in favor of erasing the mandate.
Question 4, known as TABOR II (another in a long line of "taxpayer bill of rights" initiatives), conceded defeat shortly after 10 p.m. on Tuesday. With 87 percent of precincts tallied, the vote was 60 to 40 in oppostion.
A proposal to expand the availability of medical marijuana in Maine was headed for passage late Tuesday night.
Question 5 would expand Maine's medical marijuana law to permit marijuana to be used for treatment of many more conditions, and to create a system in which patients can get the drug from nonprofit dispensaries.
With 136 precincts reporting statewide, 22 percent, the proposal was leading 71,620 to 43,244 -- a 62 percent to 38 percent edge.
Maine is one of 13 states that allow the use of medical marijuana, a group that includes Montana, Hawaii, Rhode Island and California.
Voters in Maine supported a $71 million transportation bond nearly 2-to-1, according to unofficial voting results compiled by the Bangor Daily News.
With 87 percent of precincts reporting, more than 65 percent of voters said yes to Question 6.
Maria Fuentes, executive director of the Maine Better Transportation Association, was encouraged earlier in the evening with how widespread backing for the bond appeared.
“So far we are seeing that there is support both in rural and urban parts of Maine,” she said. “This year people are very anxious about the economy, but Maine people have been pretty consistent about supporting transportation bonds.”
Mainers have traditionally supported bond issues for transportation, given the state's rural character and dependence on roads, passing every transportation bond issue voted upon over the past 40 years.
Question 7 on Maine’s ballot was a constitutional amendment designed to give clerical workers extra time to count signatures on citizen referendums and people’s vetoes.
Given that five of seven questions on this year’s ballot are people’s vetoes or citizen initiatives, each requiring at least 55,087 signatures to be approved as a ballot question, this puts a strain on municipal offices throughout the state as clerks and other personnel must verify each signature on petitions to ensure that they are registered voters. Because petitions are often submitted shortly before they are due, clerical staffers at municipal offices often don’t have the time to count signatures before they are required to return them to the circulators. Question 7 would have increased that time to 10 days. Municipal office staffers currently get five days.
With 87 percent of precincts reporting, 52.2 percent of voters, numbering about 252,332 had voted against the measure as of 1 a.m. On the other side, about 47.8 percent of voters, totaling 230,890 people, supported the measure.