October 30, 2011

A closer look at this November's ballot questions

By Susan M. Cover
State House Bureau

Voting regulations, gambling and redistricting will all be before voters Nov. 8.

Here's a look at the ballot questions, the issues and the claims by supporters and opponents.

Question 1: "Do you want to reject the section of Chapter 399 of the Public Laws of 2011 that requires new voters to register to vote at least two business days prior to an election?"


It's necessary to repeal the new state law because it's important to allow people to register to vote on Election Day. They say people who work more than one job will have difficulty finding time to register to vote. Maine has allowed same-day voter registration for 38 years and supporters say this has contributed to the state's traditionally high voter turnout.


Maine is vulnerable to potential voter fraud because clerks don't have enough time to verify whether voters are legal residents. They point to inaccurate information in the state's voter registration system as proof that it is too easy in Maine for people to provide incomplete information to clerks. Examples of the inaccurate information include 178,000 registered voters who are shown to have registered on Jan. 1, 1850 and 1,452 active registrants are listed as being 211 years old.


The Maine Town & City Clerks Association is neither for nor against the ballot question. An investigation into potential voter fraud by Secretary of State Charlie Summers showed one instance of fraud among almost 500 names that he scrutinized. The investigation revealed that five college students voted in two states in the same year, but not in the same election.

Also, the ballot question may be a little confusing to some voters because it is a repeal of a state law. A yes vote means same-day voter registration will continue in Maine. A no vote means voters will be required to register at least two business days before an election.

Question 2: Do you want to allow a slot machine facility at a harness racing track in Biddeford or another community within 25 miles of Scarborough Downs, subject to local approval, and at a harness racing track in Washington County, with part of the profits from these facilities going to support specific state and local programs?


Two companies with Maine ties, Ocean Properties and Scarborough Downs, want to build a "state-of-the-art harness racing and resort facility in Biddeford."

JOBS: The proposal will create more than 1,000 construction jobs and 500 permanent jobs in southern Maine. In Washington County, the Passamaquoddy Tribe wants to run a racino that tribal leaders say will bring needed jobs to the region.

COMMUNITY SUPPORT: Voters in Biddeford and Calais already have approved the projects, so people who live across the state should respect their decision.

FUNDING FOR MAINE: Proponents say the racino will generate funds for many important causes around the state.


JOBS: Maine should not continue to expand gambling because the facilities will not bring the kind of high-quality jobs the state needs. Opponents do not question the number of jobs that could be generated, but say that they are not the kinds of jobs that will appeal to the young college graduates many hope to keep in Maine.

COMPETITION: They say voters already have approved a racino in Bangor and a casino in Oxford, and opponents argue that the state could not support three additional gambling facilities. Five gambling sites would be more than any other state in New England.

ADDICTION: Other groups in opposition say gambling tears families apart and leads to addiction and alcoholism and that harness racing is inhumane.

(Continued on page 2)

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