Campaigns for two Maine initiatives submit signatures for 2023 ballot

In Maine, two campaigns submitted signatures for initiatives this week to make the ballot for November 7, 2023. The signatures were submitted to the secretary of state. If the minimum valid signature requirement is met, the initiatives with enough signatures will go to the Legislature, which has the option to approve them. If the Legislature does not act on them by the end of the session, they would appear on the ballot.

The initiatives were submitted ahead of the January 2023 deadline and before the November 8 general election.

On October 31, the Our Power campaign announced that it submitted more than 80,000 signatures to the Secretary of State for an initiative that would create a consumer-owned electric transmission and distribution utility called the Pine Tree Power Company to replace Central Maine Power (CMP) and Versant.

The other initiative concerns election spending by foreign governments. On November 1, the Protect Maine Elections campaign announced that it submitted over 80,000 signatures to the Maine secretary of state for an initiative that would prohibit election spending by foreign governments. This includes entities under partial (5% or more) foreign government or control.

Sen. Nicole Grohoski (D-7), who supports the proposal, said, “I think it’s clear that special interest groups and foreign governments are spending a lot of money to influence our elections and Maine people are sick and tired of having their voices drowned out by all this money, all these advertisements, especially right now, as we wind down on election season, it’s clear that it’s time to take control of our elections and make sure that Maine people’s voices are heard.”

The current signature requirement in Maine for a citizen initiative is 63,067 valid signatures. This number is calculated as 10% of the total votes cast for the previous gubernatorial election. Signatures go through a validation process, and if enough valid signatures have been submitted, the initiative is sent to the legislature. If the legislature approves the initiative, it becomes law. If the legislature does not act on the initiative or rejects it, the initiative goes on the ballot.

Because the two campaigns submitted initiatives prior to the November 8 gubernatorial election, the current signature requirement will be applied. However, for the campaigns that submit signatures after the November 8 election, the signature requirement will change to equal 10% of the total votes cast in the 2022 gubernatorial election. 

The 2023 filing deadline for other initiative petitions currently circulating is 50 days into the legislative session, or around January 26, 2023.

Correction: An earlier version of this article said three campaigns submitted signatures. The third campaign, the Maine Affordable Energy Coalition, reported collecting 92,000 signatures but had not yet submitted the signatures as of Nov. 5.