Congressional and Legislative
Congressional and legislative maps are enacted by the State Legislature with the aid of a 15-member advisory commission.
The Maine Apportionment Commission is made up of three members of the party with the largest number of seats in the Maine House, appointed by the Speaker; three members of the party with the majority of the remainder of the House seats, appointed by the leader of that party in the House; two members of the party with the largest number of Senators, appointed by the President of the Maine Senate; two members of the party with the majority of the remainder of the seats in the Maine Senate, appointed by the leader of that party in the Maine Senate; the chairperson of each of the two largest political parties in the state (or a representative of the chairpersons) appoints one member each; and the two majority political party groups represented in the Commission select one member of the general public each and these two then select a third member. The 15 members select their own chairperson.
The Commission hosts public hearings to discuss map plans before they are presented to the Maine Legislature. It also reassesses the state’s congressional districts and redraws them if they do not comply with State Supreme Court regulations. Maps and other decisions are approved by simple majority. The completed maps are tendered to the Clerk of the Maine House on or before June 1 of the redistricting year. The Legislature decides with a two-thirds vote whether to use the Commission maps or pass a map of its own during a regular or special session. The Governor can veto the plans.
The Legislature can override a veto with a two-thirds vote. No party currently has a veto-proof majority in either chamber.
If the Legislature fails to provide plans by June 11 of the year in which apportionment is required, the Supreme Court makes the plans within 60 days following the period in which the Legislature is required to act but fails to do so.
Challenges to the maps are litigated in the State Supreme Court.
Source: Me. Const. art. IV, pt. I, §§ 2-3; pt. II, § 2; pt. III, § 1-A. Me. Stat. tit. 21-A, § 1206 (2020).
Previous Redistricting Cycles
- Original Plan – LD 1590
- Passed = September 27, 2011 (R-controlled)
- Signed = September 28, 2011
- Litigation History
- Desena v. Maine, 793 F.Supp.2d 456 (D. Me. 2011): After the 2010 census results were released, plaintiffs filed a federal lawsuit challenging the existing congressional districts as malapportioned due to population shifts, which under Maine law were not set to be redrawn until 2013, after the 2012 elections. On June 21, 2011, the district court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs and ordered the Legislature to enact a new, properly apportioned congressional plan for use in the upcoming 2012 elections.
- Turcotte v. Lepage, No. 1:11-cv-312 (D. Me. Jan. 13, 2012): Plaintiff filed a federal lawsuit challenging Maine’s constitutional and statutory redistricting scheme, specifically its use of an advisory legislative apportionment commission to draw proposed maps, alleging it relies upon the two major political parties thereby negating the voice of non-party voters and unconstitutionally diluting the concept of “one person, one vote” in the congressional reapportionment context. On January 13, 2012, the district court dismissed the plaintiff’s complaint on the grounds the Legislature had adopted its own plan rather than the commissions, and therefore the case was moot.
- Original Plan – LD 1557
- Passed = June 5, 2013 (D-controlled)
- Signed = June 14, 2013
- Litigation History
- Original Senate Plan – LD 1610
- Passed = May 14, 2003 (Split-control)
- Signed = May 23, 2003
- Maine Supreme Court’s House Plan (Split control Legislature failed to pass)
- Litigation History
- In re 2003 Legislative Apportionment of the House of Reps., 827 A.2d 810 (Me. 2003): Two different challenges to the Maine Legislature’s enacted House plan were filed, each alleging various districts violated the compactness and contiguity requirements of the Maine Constitution. On July 2, 2003, the Maine Supreme Court ruled in favor of the defendants and upheld the plan after finding it complied with all constitutional and statutory requirements.
- In re 2003 Apportionment of the State Senate and United States Congressional Districts, 827 A.2d 844 (Me. 2003): After the Maine Legislature failed to agree on congressional and state House redistricting plans, redistricting authority passed to the state Supreme Court. On July 2, 2013, the Maine Supreme Court issued an opinion adopting its own congressional and state House plans.
Ballot Measure Process
Kinds of Ballot Measures
Indirect initiatives and referendums are permitted to amend statutes. Initiatives are not permitted to amend the state Constitution. Legislatively initiated ballot measures may amend both statutes and the Constitution.
There is not a single-subject rule.
Initiative Subject Restrictions
There are no initiative subject restrictions.
Five preliminary signatures are required.
The signature requirement for statutory initiatives is 10% of all votes cast for all candidates for governor in the previous gubernatorial election and the same percentage for a veto referendum. 630,670 people voted for a candidate for governor in the 2018 General Election in Maine, so 63,067 signatures are required for both statutory amendments and veto referendums.
Initiative petitions must be submitted on or before the 50th day after the convening of the Legislature in the first regular session or on or before the 25th day after the convening of the Legislature in the second regular session (January 30, 2022, delayed to January 31, 2022 due to non-business day). Referendums must be submitted within 90 days after the end of the legislative session.
The circulation period for initiative petitions is 18 months. A signature is not valid if it is dated more than one year prior to the date that the petition was filed in the office of the Secretary of State.
Ballot Title and Summary
The Ballot Question is written by the Secretary of State. Expedited reviews are not permitted.
A fiscal impact statement is required. Circulators are required to be registered voters. There are no supermajority requirements. Initiatives are permitted on general and odd-year election ballots, but not on primary and special election ballots.
Source: Me. Const. art. IV, pt. 3; art. X §4. Me. Stat. tit. 1, § 11 (2020); tit. 21-A, § 11 (2020). Maine Bureau of Corporations, Elections, & Commissions Website
In The News
- Maine’s Redistricting Commission Completes its Work, AP (9/27/21)
- Commission Approves New Maine congressional District Maps, WMTW (9/24/21)
- Democrats, GOP Strike Deal to Redraw Maine’s 151 House Districts, Bangor Daily News (9/21/21)
- Maine Redistricting Plan Would Move Dems to Swing District, AP (9/16/21)
- Facing Tight Deadline, Maine Redistricting Panel will Release Proposed Maps Next Week, Bangor Daily News (9/10/21)
- New Timeline Takes Maine Redistricting Process into the Fall, AP (7/21/21)
- Maine High Court Approves Extension of Redistricting Timeline Due to Census Delays, Bangor Daily News (7/21/20)
- With Census Data Delayed, Maine Redistricting Commission Seeks more Time for Work, Bangor Daily News (7/7/21)
- Leading Maine Lawmakers Ask State’s High Court to Extend Redistricting Deadline, Bangor Daily News (5/27/21)
- Late Census Throws Maine Redistricting into Chaos, Bangor Daily News (1/30/21)
- Maine's 2nd District could Become more Blue After 2021, Bangor Daily News (11/23/20)
- Democrats' Dream of 'Blue Wave' Continues to Crumble as Gideon Concedes Maine Senate Race, NEXTAR (11/4/20)
- Maine Surges in Census Responses, but 12 Percent of Households Still not Counted, WGME (8/29/20)
- With Tighter Census Deadline, Advocates Worry Mainers Most in Need Won't be Counted, Maine Beacon (8/10/20)
- Census Takers Begin Making House Calls in Maine, AP (7/16/20)