The most ballot measures in Maine since 2010

Welcome to the Friday, August 4, Brew. 

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Maine voters to decide on eight ballot measures in November—the most since 2010
  2. A roundup of Aug. 1 election results 
  3. #FridayTrivia: What percentage of enacted legislation related to the initiative, referendum, and recall processes between 2018 and 2023 made those processes more difficult?

Maine voters to decide on eight ballot measures in November—the most since 2010

It’s a banner year for ballot measures in the Pine Tree State. 

In 2023, Maine voters will decide eight measures in November—the most since 2010. Between 1985 and 2022, the average number of ballot measures on the Maine ballot was 5.3 (in fact, the number of certified statewide measures across the country so far is the highest in recent memory in an odd-numbered year—40 compared to an average of 33 between 2011-2021). 

Last year, in 2022, zero measures made the ballot in Maine.

On July 25, the legislature approved four constitutional amendments, adding to the four citizen-initiated state statutes that had already been certified for the November ballot. A two-thirds supermajority vote is required by both the House and Senate to refer constitutional amendments to the ballot. Voter approval is required for any amendments to the Maine Constitution.

The constitutional amendments that Maine voters will decide in November are:

  • Question 5, which would change the timeline for the judicial review of initiative petitions
  • Question 6, which would require sections of the Maine Constitution pertaining to Maine Indian Treaty Obligations to be included in the official printed version of the constitution
  • Question 7, which would remove the requirement that a circulator for a citizen initiative or referendum petition must be a citizen of Maine
  • Question 8, which would exempt voters from harassment during the voting process, as well as provide for individuals under a guardianship for reasons of mental illness to be able to vote for governor, senators, and representatives

In addition, Maine voters will also decide four citizen-initiated measures. In Maine, citizens cannot refer constitutional amendments to the ballot but can place state statutes on the ballot through the indirect initiative process. This means that after a citizen initiative campaign submits enough signatures to qualify for the ballot, the initiative first goes to the legislature. If the legislature approves the initiative, the initiative becomes law. If the legislature does not approve the initiative, or if the governor vetoes the initiative, it goes to the ballot for Maine voters to decide. 

The indirect initiated state statutes Maine voters will decide in November are:

  • Question 1, which would require voter approval for certain entities or utilities that incur a total outstanding debt that exceeds $1 billion
  • Question 2, which would prohibit election spending by foreign governments. You can read our detailed Brew coverage of this measure here
  • Question 3, which would create Pine Tree Power Company, a municipal electric utility, and would allow the company to purchase and acquire all investor-owned transmission and distribution utilities in Maine. You can read our detailed Brew coverage of this measure here.
  • Question 4, which would allow motor vehicle owners and independent repair facilities to have access to the vehicle on-board diagnostic systems. You can read our detailed Brew coverage of this measure here

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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A roundup of Aug. 1 election results 

ICYMI, Aug. 1 had quite a few interesting election results. Let’s catch up on what happened in Arizona, Kansas, New Hampshire, and Washington. 


Voters in Wichita decided several primaries, including one for mayor. The mayoral primary featured nine candidates, including incumbent Brandon Whipple, who was first elected in 2019. 

Lily Wu and Whipple received the most votes in the top two primary, and will face off in the general election on Nov. 7. Wu received 30.1% of the vote to Whipple’s 23.7%. 

Though the primary was officially nonpartisan, Wu—a former Republican—is a Libertarian. Whipple is a Democrat who defeated incumbent Mayor Jeff Longwell (R) in 2019.

Wu was a reporter and news anchor for two Wichita-area television stations for 12 years and also served as a board member for three Wichita-area nonprofit organizations. At her campaign announcement, she said: “Restoring trust in city hall really has to do with a change in leadership. I think what we need right now is a leader and an ambassador, like I mentioned, that helps bring back the trust (between residents and city representatives).”

Whipple was a Democratic state legislator from 2013 to 2020. He said Wichita’s most pressing issue was improving public safety: “As Mayor, we must continue to build a safer city. This includes rebuilding trust, investing in programs that address youth violence, domestic violence, human trafficking, and embracing best practices for addressing mental health, substance abuse, and homelessness.

Wichita is the 48th largest city in the country, with a population of nearly 400,000. As of this writing, 63 mayors in the largest 100 cities by population are affiliated with the Democratic Party, 24 are affiliated with the Republican Party, four are independents, seven identify as nonpartisan or unaffiliated, and two mayors’ affiliations are unknown.

Click here to learn more about this election. 


Seattle and Spokane held mayoral and city council elections, and school districts across the state held school board elections. That included a recall against three of the five members of the Richland School District school board. 

The three members named in the recall effort are M. Semi Bird, Audra Byrd, and Kari Williams. As of this writing, preliminary results show voters recalled all three candidates. Washington uses mail-in ballots, and results will be certified Aug. 15.

Semi Bird is a Republican candidate for governor in the Nov. 5, 2024, election.

Recall supporters said that the board members violated the Open Public Meetings Act; violated district policies, procedures, and code of ethics; and voted to make masks optional while a statewide mask requirement was in place. All three board members denied any wrongdoing.

In his response to the recall results, Bird said, “Leadership is taking the difficult right over the easy wrong, and as your new Governor, I will always put people over politics, protect the individual rights of citizens, and do what is right without fear of personal or political backlash.”

So far this year, we’ve tracked 36 efforts against 66 officials. Between 2009 and 2022, we tracked an average of 34 recall efforts against an average of 80 school board members each year. A total of 19.6% of the school board members included in the efforts faced recall elections, and 10% of school board members were removed from office.

Click here to see more of the school board recall elections we’ve covered, or click here to read our mid-year recall report. We covered this recall in Hall Pass, our weekly newsletter on school board politics and elections. Subscribe here.  

Click the link below to stay up to date with upcoming elections in your state. 

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#FridayTrivia: What percentage of enacted legislation related to the initiative, referendum, and recall processes between 2018 and 2023 made those processes more difficult?

In the Thursday Brew, we announced our new, multiyear report on changes to laws governing ballot measures. This report looks closely at legislation related to ballot initiatives, referendums, and recall processes in between 2018 and 2023. 

We noted that between 2018 and 2023, state legislators introduced a total of 1,787 pieces of legislation related to the initiative, referendum, and recall processes, 194 (10.9%) of which became law. 

What percentage of those 194 enacted bills made the initiative, referendum, or recall processes more difficult?

  1. 21.7%
  2. 32.6%
  3. 7.8%
  4. 13%