LePage proclaims validity of four of six referendum questions

Gov. Paul LePage has issued proclamations related to four of the referendum questions that appeared on the November general election ballot, ending speculation that he might try to block some of the citizen-initiated laws by refusing to issue the proclamations.

Today was deadline for the proclamations, according to the Maine Constitution.

Kristen Muszynski, spokeswoman for the secretary of state’s office, said proclamations have been received from the governor’s office on questions 3 through 6. Question 1, which seeks to legalize recreational marijuana, is in the midst of a recount. Question 2 opponents initially requested a recount but then withdrew the request, pushing the deadline for LePage’s proclamation on that question to Dec. 12. Question 2 would create a 3-percent surtax on income above $200,000 a year and funnel that money to public schools.

Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap said Thursday afternoon that LePage’s proclamations called into the question the results of Maine’s 2016 elections, as he has in the past, but didn’t provide any reasons. The Republican governor in the past has said Maine’s election system cannot be trusted because the state does not require voters to show identification at the polls.

“Anybody who has doubts about the security of Maine’s elections should talk to their town clerks and other municipal officials,” said Dunlap. “The chain of custody of our ballots is strong. … I think this is probably a continuation of that cynical narrative on voter reforms that seek to restrict access to elections.”

LePage opposed all five citizen-initiated referendum questions but the Maine Constitution is clear that he is bound to issue proclamations within 10 days of the secretary of state’s office certifying the election results.

The referendums proclaimed by the governor on Thursday go into effect in 30 days, which falls on Jan. 7, 2017.

LePage has urged the Legislature to consider changes to some of the referendums, including Questions 1, 2 and 4.

Christopher Cousins

About Christopher Cousins

Christopher Cousins has worked as a journalist in Maine for more than 15 years and covered state government for numerous media organizations before joining the Bangor Daily News in 2009.