Maine Public Campaign Financing, Question 3 (1996)

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The Maine Public Campaign Financing Initiative, also known as Question 3, was on the November 5, 1996 ballot in Maine as a legislatively-referred bond question, where it was approved.[1] The measure enacted the Maine Clean Election Act. Under this act, gubernatorial and state legislative candidates could choose to have their campaigns publicly funded starting in 2000. In order to qualify for public funding, gubernatorial candidates would have to receive contributions between $5 and $100 up to a maximum of $50,000 from at least 2,500 Maine voters at the beginning of an election year. Senate candidates would have to receive contributions between $5 and $100 up to a maximum of $1,500 from at least 150 voters within the senate district for which they are running. state representative candidates would have to receive contributions between $5 and $100 up to a maximum of $500 from at least 50 voters within the house district for which they are running. Once qualified, a candidate could not receive any further contributions, and would have to finance his or her campaign solely from distributions from the Fund.[2][3]

Election results

Maine Question 3 (1996)
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 320,755 56.18%
No250,18543.82%

Election results via: Maine State Law and Legislative Reference Library, Votes on Initiated Bills 1980-

Text of measure

Maine 1996 sample ballot for statewide measures

The language appeared on the ballot as:[2]

QUESTION 3: CITIZEN INITIATIVE

Do you want Maine to adopt new campaign finance laws and give public funding to candidates for state office who agree to spending limits? [4]

Intent and content

According to the Citizens Guide for 1996's ballot measures,

This initiated legislation would enact the Maine Clean Election Act, under which candidates running for the offices of Governor,State Senator and State Representative in the elections of the year 2000 and thereafter may choose to have their campaigns funded publicly by the Maine Clean Election Fund. In order to qualify for public funding, candidates for Governor would have to receive contributions between $5 and $100 up to a maximum of $50,000 from at least 2,500 Maine voters at the beginning of an election year; candidates for State Senator would have to receive contributions between $5 and $100 up to a maximum of $1,500 from at least 150 voters within the applicable Senate district; and candidates for State Representative would have to receive contributions between $5 and $100 up to a maximum of $500 from at least 50 voters within the applicable House district. Once qualified, a candidate could not receive any further contributions, but must finance his or her campaign solely from distributions from the Fund. The amount of those distributions would be the average amount of campaign expenditures for the office in question for the preceding 2 contested primaries, uncontested primaries, or contested general elections, as applicable. The Fund would be funded by an annual transfer of $2 million from state income and sales tax revenues (to be offset by reductions in administrative divisions in the legislative and executive branches) and a voluntary $3 state income tax checkoff, as well as unspent past distributions, voluntary contributions and fines imposed for violations of the Act and the campaign reporting laws.

The Act and Fund would be administered by the Commission on Governmental Ethics and Elections Practices, which would become a 5 member body appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Legislature. The Commission would receive increased funding for its administration and enforcement of the campaign and lobbyist reporting laws from an increase in the annual registration fee for lobbying from $200 to $400 for a principal lobbyist and $100 to $200 for a lobbyist associate.

The initiative would also reduce permitted campaign contributions (now $1,000 for each individual and $5,000 for each corporation or political action committee) to $500 for any election for Governor and $250 for any other state or county election. [4]

—Maine Citizen's Guide to the Referendum Election, Tuesday, November 5, 1996, [2]

Similar measures

In 1989, a measure sought to create public financing for gubernatorial campaigns, but was defeated on the ballot.

See also

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