Breaking Down the Ballot: Questions 7 and 8

Maine State House
Maine State House(WABI)
Published: Nov. 6, 2023 at 5:58 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. 7th 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 7:

Do you favor amending the Constitution of Maine to remove a provision requiring a circulator of a citizen’s initiative or people’s veto petition to be a resident of Maine and a registered voter in Maine, requirements that have been ruled unconstitutional in federal court?

”Previously, the Maine Constitution said your registered Maine voter to circulate a petition. The court said that telling somebody to sign a petition or not to sign a petition is an act of freedom of speech. And so, to prohibit that, and, and stop people from out of state from collecting signatures was a violation of their First Amendment rights under the United States Constitution. So, the language in our Constitution has been found to be unconstitutional under the United States Constitution,” said Bellows.

Question 8:

Do you favor amending the Constitution of Maine to remove a provision prohibiting a person under guardianship for reasons of mental illness from voting for Governor, Senators and Representatives, which the United States District Court for the District of Maine found violates the United States Constitution and federal law?

”Until 1965, the Maine Constitution said that paupers, also known as poor people, and people under guardianship did not have the right to vote. In 1965, they passed a constitutional amendment that allowed poppers to vote it took that language out, and it changed the language around people under guardianship to just restrict people under guardianship by reason of mental illness from voting. Well, in 2000, there were three women Jane Doe, Jill Doe and June Doe, who wanted to vote in the Presidential election. They went to court to try to win the right to vote and the courts agreed that the Maine constitutional prohibition on people under guardianship by reason of mental illness was unconstitutional under the United States Constitution, equal protection under the law in the 14th amendment. So, they were allowed to vote then and today. Every citizen of the state of Maine has the right to vote. But in both of those cases, question seven and question eight, that outdated language that has been found by the courts to be unconstitutional is still in the constitution. So as the legislature was reviewing potential constitutional amendments in the last session, Democrats and Republicans agreed that while they were bringing two constitutional amendments to the ballot, they should bring these housekeeping clean up amendments as well,” said Bellows.

For questions 5 and 6, click here.