Maine voters to decide on state flag ballot measure in Nov. 2024

Maine voters will decide on whether to change the design of the state flag on Nov. 5, 2024. This is the first certified statewide measure for the Maine 2024 ballot.

The ballot measure would replace the current Maine state flag, which features the state’s coat of arms, with the first official state flag called the Pine Tree Flag, which features a green pine tree and the North Star. The first flag was first adopted on March 21, 1901, and was replaced with the current state flag in Feb. 1909.

A modernized take of the previous flag of Maine was designed by the Maine Flag Company. Bethany Field, the co-owner of the Maine Flag Company, said that there are many variations of the Pine Tree Flag that have been created and that her company bases its modernized design on the 1939 Maine Merchant and Marine flag. Field said, “We don’t really have an original flag from 1901. That artifact doesn’t exist.” 

As to which design voters will decide on, Secretary of State Shenna Bellows (D) said, “One company utilizes the more modern looking version of the 1939 tree. Another company utilizes a more lifelike version.”

Current flag of Maine (Feb. 1909-present)

Previous flag of Maine (March 1901-Feb. 1909)

A modernized version of the previous flag of Maine by the Maine Flag Company

Maine Merchant and Marine Flag (1939)

The measure was sponsored by State Rep. Sean Paulhus (D-50) during the 2023-2024 legislative session. The Maine House of Representatives voted 64-61 to engross the measure on June 6, 2023, and on June 7, the Maine State Senate voted 22-12 to engross the measure.  Gov. Janet Mills (D) allowed the bill to become law without her signature on July 27, 2023, thereby delaying the vote on the measure until Nov. 2024 rather than Nov. 2023.

In support of the measure, Rep. Paulhus (D) said, “We are the pine tree state, and I think it is a good representative, all-inclusive design. Our state flag currently with a blue background in our state seal looks very similar to many other state flags. The people have embraced [the pine tree flag]. I see that flag on more houses than the current state flag.”

State Rep. Billy Bob Faulkingham (R), who voted against the measure to change the Maine flag, said, “I like the blue background. You know, I think it goes back to Civil War significance to have that blue flag. The sailor and the farmer have historical significance back to the roots of the state of Maine, and that’s what they represent. I don’t think the people of Maine want us down here and changing our flag. I think they think that we’ve got more important things to get to.”

Recently, voters in Mississippi voted to change the design of the state flag in 2020. The original design of the Mississippi flag, which was adopted by the Mississippi State Legislature in 1894 and contained the Confederate Battle Cross, was replaced by the new design of the state flag, which instead contained a white magnolia blossom with the words ‘In God We Trust’. Mississippi voters approved the new design of the flag by 72%-27%.

In order for the Maine state flag design to be changed, a simple majority of voters is required. Out of the 249 ballot measures Maine voters decided between 1985 and 2022, 186 (74.7%) measures were approved, and 63 (25.3%) were defeated.

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