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Maine Time Frame for Municipal Certification of Citizen Initiative Signatures, Question 7 (2009)

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The Maine Time Frame for Municipal Certification of Citizen Initiative Signatures Referendum, also known as Question 7, was on the November 3, 2009 ballot in Maine as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment, where it was defeated. The measure would have increased the amount of time for municipalities to complete their review of petitions for indirect initiated state statutes, which are called direct initiatives in Maine, from five to ten days. Those petitions would have had to be submitted to municipalities for review on the 12th day before the filing deadline with the secretary of state, instead of the 10th day before. The measure also would have changed the deadline for submitting people's vetoes to municipal offices from the fifth day before the filing deadline with the secretary of state to the third.[1][2]

The bill was sponsored by Rep. Meredith Strang Burgess. The House passed the bill on May 12, 2009 and the Senate both passed the bill on June 12, 2009.[3]

Election results

Maine Question 7
ResultVotesPercentage
Defeatedd No285,38552.24%
Yes 260,887 47.76%

Election results via: Maine Secretary of State, Elections Division, Referendum Election Tabulations, November 3, 2009

Text of measure

The language appeared on the ballot as:[1]

ME2009Nov Question 7 SB.PNG [4]

Summary

The following description of the intent and content of this ballot measure was provided in the Maine Citizen's Guide to the Referendum Election:

Maine November 3, 2009 Sample Ballot

This proposal would authorize an amendment to the Constitution of Maine to change certain time frames in the direct initiative and people’s veto referendum process.

Direct initiative: The amendment would increase, from 5 days to 10 days, the time period for officials of cities, towns and plantations to complete their review of petitions for a direct initiative in order to certify which signatures are those of registered voters within their city, town or plantation. It also clarifies for these purposes that “day” and “days” means any day that is not a Saturday, Sunday or legal holiday. Direct initiative petitions would have to be submitted to municipal offices for review by 5:00 p.m. on the 12th day (instead of the 10th day, under current law) before the deadline for filing with the Secretary of State’s office.

There is a corresponding extension of the deadline for filing a direct initiative petition with the Secretary of State’s office. Under current law, that deadline is the 50th day after the Legislature convenes in a first regular session (the first year of the biennium) and the 25th day after the Legislature convenes in a second regular session (the second year of the biennium). This proposal would extend those deadlines by ten days to the 60th and 35th days, respectively. Petitioners would thus have approximately the same amount of time in which to circulate petitions and collect signatures under this proposal as under current law.

People’s veto: The only change to the time frames for a people’s veto petition is that such petitions would have to be submitted to municipal offices by 5:00 p.m. on the 3rd day (instead of the 5th day) before the deadline for filing with the Secretary of State’s office. Saturdays, Sundays and legal holidays are again excluded. The existing deadline in the Constitution for filing a people’s veto petition with the Secretary of State’s office would remain unchanged.

A “YES” vote favors adoption of this constitutional amendment.

A “NO” vote opposes adoption of this constitutional amendment. [4]

Office of the Attorney General, [1]

Fiscal note

The following fiscal impact statement was provided in the Maine Citizen's Guide to the Referendum Election:

Fiscal Notes and Details. Potential savings to towns; increasing the amount of time that local officials have to certify the signatures on direct initiative petitions will result in savings to any municipality that would have otherwise incurred additional salary or overtime costs to meet the current deadline. This might be especially relevant when multiple petitions are simultaneously submitted to a municipal clerk. The other language changes are not expected to have any fiscal impact. [4]

—Office of Fiscal and Program Review, [1]

Campaign contributions

No support or opposition groups registered with the state ethics commission to raise or spend money for the measure.[5][6]

Media editorial positions

Main article: Endorsements of Maine ballot measures, 2009

Support

  • The Bangor Daily News said,

Democratic passions may drive the people who work to put citizen initiatives on the ballot. But it’s city and town clerks and their assistants who labor at verifying that the signatures on the petitions are those of registered voters. Approving Question 7 will make the clerks’ work a little easier. [4]

—Bangor Daily News, [7]

  • The Seacoast Media Group said,

This is another no-brainer. It gives town and city clerks more time to process petitions by residents who want to put a citizen's initiative to a statewide vote. Clerks are responsible for verifying petition signatures, and this measure would increase the window for verification from five to 10 days. Vote YES. [4]

—Seacoast Media Group, [8]

See also

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