Mainers approved a proposal Tuesday to expand the state’s public campaign financing system and passed two bond issues for $100 million for senior housing and transportation projects.

The proposal to revitalize the Maine Clean Election Act, Question 1, was leading 55-45 percent, with 79 percent of precincts reporting.

The senior housing bond, Question 2, had a 69-31 percent margin. Question 3, the transportation bond, was ahead 72-28 percent.

Approved by voters in 1996, the Maine Clean Election Act allows candidates running for the Legislature or governor to receive public campaign financing in exchange for agreeing to forgo private donations. Question 1 would increase the total pool of money available to the Maine Clean Elections program and increase the potential disbursements to candidates while allowing them to collect additional $5 donations.

The initiative would also require organizations behind political advertisements to disclose the top three donors to the ads and would increase penalties for candidates who violate Maine’s campaign finance laws.

One of two state-level campaign finance initiatives on ballots around the country this year, supporters claim the measure will help reduce the influence of outside groups or well-funded special interests on Maine elections while strengthening accountability and transparency.

“We are feeling very excited and proud of the type of campaign we have run and the support that we have received from Democrats, Republicans, Greens and independents all throughout the state,” said Lizzy Reinholt, spokeswoman for Mainers for Accountable Elections, the political action committee that spearheaded the Question 1 campaign.

Some critics of the initiative, including Gov. Paul LePage, had labeled the campaign “welfare for politicians” while the Maine State Chamber of Commerce and various business groups opposed funding the expansion by eliminating tax incentive programs.

Mainers also cast ballots on two bond issues.

Question 2 would borrow $15 million via the sale of general obligation bonds to help pay for the construction of new energy-efficient affordable homes for low-income seniors, as well as the repair or weatherization of the homes of low-income seniors. Question 3, meanwhile, proposed $85 million for transportation projects such as road construction, bridge repairs and railroad infrastructure investments.

Kevin Miller can be contacted at 791-6312 or at:

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