How will Maine Question 1 stack up to prior measures in terms of cost-per-vote?

Maine Question 1, a citizen-initiated measure designed to prohibit the New England Clean Energy Connect (NECEC), could see one of the highest cost-per-vote ratios for a ballot measure that Ballotpedia has recorded. The most recent campaign finance reports, which cover through Sept. 30, show that more than $71.82 million has been raised between supporters and opponents of Question 1. With Maine’s population of 1.36 million residents, contributions received were equivalent to $52.71 per resident.

For comparison, California Proposition 22, passed in 2020, is the most expensive ballot measure on record. Over $224.25 million was raised for and against Proposition 22, which was about $5.67 per California resident. At the election, 16.99 million people voted on Proposition 22, giving it a cost-per-vote ratio of $13.11 per vote. Alaska Ballot Measure 1, which would have increased taxes on oil production fields, had the highest cost-per-vote in 2020 at $64.64 per vote.

In Maine, turnout at odd-year referendum elections varied between 17 and 34 percent over the three prior election cycles. With about 1.14 million registered voters, based on the last published count in 2020, turnout would be between 203,000 and 380,000 voters based on the prior cycles. That would lead to a $189 to $353-per-vote projection for Maine Question 1. Maine turnout could exceed the three prior cycles, and Question 1 campaigns could still yet receive an influx of contributions. 

Ballotpedia has been conducting a cost-per-vote analysis for ballot measures since 2018. Three of the five top measures addressed policies related to energy. Since then, the following are the top five measures in terms of cost-per-vote:

Nevada Question 3 (2018) had a cost-per-vote of $100.85. Question 3 was defeated. It would have required the state legislature to pass laws to establish “an open, competitive retail electric energy market” and prohibited the state from granting electrical-generation monopolies.

Alaska Ballot Measure 1 (2020) had a cost-per-vote of $64.64. Measure 1 was defeated. It would have increased taxes on at least three oil production fields.

Montana I-185 (2018) had a cost-per-vote of $51.30. Initiative 185 was defeated. It would have increased the tobacco tax to fund Medicaid expansion.

Ohio Issue 2 (2017) had a cost-per vote of $37.79. Issue 2 was defeated. It would have required state agencies and programs to purchase prescription drugs at prices no higher than what the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) pays for them.

Arizona Proposition 127 (2018) had a cost-per vote of $23.80. It was defeated. Proposition 127 would have required electric utilities in Arizona to acquire a certain percentage of electricity from renewable resources each year, with the percentage increasing annually from 12 percent in 2020 to 50 percent in 2030.

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