“For all intents and purposes, there will be no change,” says Secretary Bellows, regarding referendum questions 7 & 8

Published: Nov. 13, 2023 at 2:24 PM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

AUGUSTA, Maine (WAGM) - Questions 7 and 8 on the 2023 Maine Referendum failed to pass. Question 7 asked Mainers to remove a provision from the constitution that allows out-of-state circulators to send petitions to Maine, while Question 8 was to remove a provision that does not allow people who are under guardianship for reasons of mental illness to vote.

Secretary of State Shenna Bellows says that despite the outcome, there will be no legal impact.

“Questions 7 and 8 failed because voters didn’t want to eliminate the preexisting language from our constitution,” Secretary Bellows explains. “However, the courts have already ruled those provisions to violate the United States Constitution. And I as Secretary, swear an oath to uphold the United States Constitution, so for all intents and purposes, there will be no change.

“Out-of-state circulators can still circulate petitions because the courts have found that to be their constitutional right under the first amendment, and every Maine citizen, regardless of who they are or where they come from, if they are a citizen and a resident of the state, and 18 years or older, on the November election day they can participate,” Secretary Bellows continues. “They can vote, no exception.”

Unlike Question 7, Question 8 concerned a human rights issue as it asked voters to remove discriminatory language from the Maine constitution. Bellows suggests that a lack of education and awareness may have led to its failure.

“There was a lot of money spent on the first four question,” Secretary Bellows remarks. “Millions of dollars spent in educating the public about the pros and cons for example of Question 3 . . . other questions, 5,7 and 8, didn’t have any campaigns or proponents or advocacy groups out there educating voters, whether it was paid advertising, or door-to-door canvasing, or flyers, you didn’t see any of that.”

While voters had the opportunity to have their voices heard on the issues, Bellows says ultimately the US Constitution supersedes the Maine Constitution, and there will be no legal changes.