Breaking Down the Ballot: Questions 5 and 6 explained as Mainers head to the polls

Published: Nov. 6, 2023 at 5:53 PM EST
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(WABI) - We’re taking a look at questions five through eight, the four constitutional amendments that will appear on the Nov. 7 ballot.

To help break down each question to prepare you for voting, we spoke to Secretary of State Shenna Bellows to help us better understand the background behind each one.

Question 5:

Do you favor amending the Constitution of Maine to change the time period for judicial review of the validity of written petitions from within 100 days from the date of filing to within 100 business days from the date of filing of a written petition in the office of the Secretary of State, with an exception for petitions filed within 30 calendar days before or after a general election?

“Question five is complicated on paper, but pretty simple in practice. It simply gives the Elections Division here at the state level, more time to certify petitions during a big election year like a Governor’s race or a Presidential election. If question five passes, it simply gives more time to the state elections officials to certify petitions. It doesn’t change when petitions go on the ballot. It doesn’t change the validity of the petitions. It simply lets election officials focus on Presidential and Governor’s elections during an election season, put those petitions in a secure facility and come back to them after the election is over,” says Bellows.

Question 6:

Do you favor amending the Constitution of Maine to require that all of the provisions of the Constitution be included in the official printed copies of the Constitution prepared by the Secretary of State?

”Every 10 years the Secretary of State produces an official version of the Maine State Constitution. And in the late 1800s, a constitutional convention passed a provision of the Constitution that keeps parts of what’s called article 10 secret. Basically, prohibits the Secretary of State from printing those provisions. Now, you can see what those provisions say in online sources. But the question is that official printing for the Maine State Archives, should the entire constitution be printed? As far as we know, Maine may be the only state that has a part of the Constitution that can’t be printed. So remember, that Maine used to be part of Massachusetts, and when Maine separated from Massachusetts, the Constitution included articles of separation describing that relationship between Maine and Massachusetts, as well as the relationship between the new state of Maine and the Wabanaki nations. It’s unclear why the Constitutional Convention of the late 1800s chose to stop printing those articles perhaps because it was associated with that separation from Massachusetts. Some legal experts disagree about whether printing would have a legal effect or not. But the consensus seems to be that printing those provisions do not change their existence. They currently exist, it’s just as the Secretary of State, I’m currently prohibited by the Constitution from actually printing them in the official version,” said Bellows.

For questions 7 and 8, click here.