Mainers vote Tuesday on only two statewide ballot issues and a handful of mayoral, city council and school board contests. Those issues could be decided by a relatively small number of eligible voters.
In a presidential election year, it’s common for 7 of every 10 eligible Maine voters go to the polls. But with no major statewide issues on the ballot, it’s likely the turnout will be a fraction of that.
One statewide ballot question asks for approval of a $105 million transportation bond, and the other for a constitutional amendment aimed at making it easier for people with physical disabilities to sign petitions.
Transportation Commissioner Bruce Van Note says the former is crucial for planned repairs and reconstruction.
“The bottom line would be a huge, huge impact on what we would be able to put out,” he says.
Van Note says without the bond money, the state could lose the ability to contract for many projects and would not be able to draw on available matching federal funds. In all, he says only about half of the planned improvements would go forward.
“On an average year we would normally put out to bid to the contractors in the ballpark of $350 million in advertised work. That could easily be cut in half,” he says.
The Maine secretary of state’s office predicts that turnout in some local races will be higher, with as many as 1 in 4 eligible voters casting ballots in contested mayor’s races in Portland and Lewiston.
Originally published Nov. 5, 2019 at 5:53 a.m. ET.