With extremely low voter turnout, Tuesday’s statewide referendum to approve a $50 million bond to promote jobs and innovation passed overwhelmingly in Maine’s largest communities.

A survey of city and town clerks in Maine communities with at least 10,000 residents found that the referendum passed in all of them, usually by a wide margin. However, the statewide outcome won’t be known for several more days, according to the Maine Secretary of State’s office.

Voter turnout among the surveyed communities was low, ranging from 17 percent to less than 1 percent.

The bond issue calls for the Maine Technology Institute to distribute $45 million in grants for upgrades in aquaculture, marine technology, forestry and agriculture. The Small Enterprise Growth Fund would direct the remaining $5 million to qualifying small businesses in fields including marine sciences, biotechnology and manufacturing.

MTI President Brian Whitney said funding requests exceeded grant amounts by a 4-to-1 ratio in the last round of applications, indicating high demand for the program.

Bond proposal spokesman Mike Saxl has said he anticipated statewide voter turnout of 10 percent or less. He said the low turnout made it virtually impossible to predict the outcome even though Maine residents generally favor bond proposals.


Portland voters appeared to favor the referendum most heavily among larger cities and towns, with about 80 percent of those who went to the polls supporting it. Voter turnout in Portland was 7 percent.

The referendum received 76 percent approval in Bangor, 74 percent approval in South Portland, 66 percent approval in Augusta, 65 percent approval in Biddeford and 62 percent approval in Lewiston. Voter turnout ranged between 2 percent and 8 percent in those communities.

The highest voter turnout among the communities surveyed was 17 percent, in Kennebunk, where the referendum passed with 69 percent approval.

“I aim high. I even had open hours on Sundays to get the vote out,” Kennebunk Town Clerk Merton Brown said.

The lowest turnout was less than 1 percent, in Gorham, where the referendum passed with 65 percent approval.

Maine Deputy Secretary of State Julie Flynn, who oversees elections, said the state has until July 3 to tabulate the results and submit them to Gov. Paul LePage for his signature.

Flynn said she didn’t think it would take that long, but she said it probably would take more than a week to get the results tabulated.

Municipalities have until Friday to submit their results to the Secretary of State’s office, she said. Next week, the office will produce a spreadsheet based on the results and also contact the cities and towns that didn’t turn in their results on time, which Flynn said is a common occurrence.


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