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.
JOBS: Each site would be permitted to have up to 1,500 slot machines, although advertisements are focusing on jobs and horse racing. Nationally, jobs at casinos pay an average of $29,000 with a wide pay range depending on the job title, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
FUNDS FOR MAINERS: The racinos will be required to give 39 percent of net income from slot machines to various causes, including harness racing purses, prescription drugs for the elderly, the state General Fund and Gambling Control Board, agricultural fairs, higher education scholarships, off-track betting operators, and host municipalities. Fiscal estimates prepared by the state for both facilities combined show the operators would have net income of $97 million, with the operator share of $59 million in the first year, and the state share at $38 million.
PAYOUTS: The state requires slots parlors to have a minimum payback percentage – prizes paid out to players – of 89 percent.
Question 3: Do you want to allow a casino with table games and slot machines in Lewiston, with part of the profits going to support specific state and local programs?
DEVELOPMENT: Downtown Lewiston needs a casino as part of an overall effort to revitalize the city now that major industries have moved out. It’s important to find a new use for Bates Mill #5, a massive vacant waterfront building.
JOBS: The project will bring construction jobs and permanent jobs to the area, but they would not estimate how many.
BUSINESS: A casino in downtown Lewiston may help the casino owners, but will not help surrounding businesses. People who visit casinos don’t often visit other local businesses, but rather spend all their money at the casino. CasinosNo! points to Atlantic City, N.J.; Lawrenceburg, Ind.; and Saratoga Springs, N.Y., as examples of places where new gambling facilities have not helped struggling areas.
JOBS: Opponents say while the casino may bring new jobs to the area, existing businesses will suffer because people will spend all of their money at the casino.
DEVELOPMENT: While the developers want to use the Bates Mill, they may put the casino elsewhere if they determine that it will be too expensive to rehabilitate the old building. They also have said they are looking for a temporary site somewhere in town so they can get up and running right away.
FUNDS FOR MAINERS: Casino owners would be required to give 1 percent of gross slot machine income to the state plus 40 percent of net slot machine income would be distributed to various entities. Those include environmental causes, downtown revitalization, the host county and host municipality, transportation improvements, higher education, agricultural fairs, tourism, home-based care for the elderly, humane societies, harness racing purses, and meals on wheels. Estimates prepared by the state show the net slot income at $48 million, with the operator’s share at $29 million and the state’s share at $19 million.
PAYOUTS: The payback percentage for the slots at the facility would be required to be at least 89 percent, but the state does not set a payback minimum for table games.
Question 4: Do you favor amending the Constitution of Maine to change the years of redistricting the Maine Legislature, congressional districts and county commissioner districts after 2013 from 2023 and every 10th year thereafter to 2021 and every 10th year thereafter?
It’s important for Maine to have the same cycle for redistricting as other states.
Nothing. (There are no known opponents.)
While the bill changes the redistricting cycle, it also requires support from two-thirds of lawmakers to approve new district lines. Democrats pointed out this change in September, when Republicans considered passing a new reapportionment plan by a simple majority. Ultimately, the two sides came to an 11th-hour agreement that produced near-unanimous support.