Efficient, high speed access to the Internet for all Maine residents regardless of geographic location or demographics is a necessity for assuring equal access to local and state government; for maintaining openness and transparency in government activities; for communicating with legislative leaders; for engaging in political discourse; for competing in the global marketplace; for providing full and equal access to education, commerce, and civic life; and for assuring that voters receive the information they need to participate in our democracy.
The League of Women Voters believes that responsible government should be responsive to the will of the people. The League has long-established positions that encourage citizen participation in government, endorse citizens’ right to know, hold representative government to standards of accountability, and support campaign finance regulation and transparency in political campaigns.
Against this backdrop, the League of Women Voters of Maine (LWVME) supports protecting the right of Maine citizens to propose and veto legislation through a state-wide, citizen-initiated petition process.
In furtherance of this right, LWVME supports:
- Keeping administrative barriers low so that the process itself and information about the process are accessible to ordinary citizens wishing to initiate or veto legislation, including instructions for sponsors that are comprehensive, easily available, and understandable;
- Ensuring that the signature threshold and other requirements for filing CI/PVR petitions are rigorous enough to prevent frivolous proposals that stand little chance of being approved by voters, but not so difficult as to discourage grassroots efforts to initiate or repeal legislation;
- Government-provided voter information about pending CI/PVR questions that is appropriate to the general audience, adequately funded, and widely distributed; this includes ensuring (1) that information provided in the Maine Citizen's Guide to the Referendum Election and on ballots and petitions themselves is unbiased, appropriate for each type of document, and understandable by ordinary citizens; and (2) that any pro/con positions from public hearings or other sources are available to the public in a timely manner; and
- Campaign finance regulation of CI/PVR that requires full disclosure by all donors to ballot question initiatives (including but not limited to individuals, corporations, ballot question committees, and PACs), effective enforcement of campaign finance legislation by designated government agencies, and adequate funding of those agencies to insure timely and easy access by the public to the online data base and summary information.
- Geographic restrictions for signature collection on CI/PVR petitions,
- Limitations on the area of law that can be covered by CI/PVR, and
- Introduction of a citizen-initiated process for Constitutional Amendments
The League of Women Voters of Maine (LWVME) gives its highest priority to policy principles that protect and expand voter participation and turnout in all elections, including candidate selection systems. The LWVME supports policies that permit broad citizen participation in primary elections while at the same time balancing the interests of major parties, small parties, and independent candidates and permitting political parties to perform their traditional functions. In addition, LWVME values policies that ensure elections are transparent, verifiable, and auditable. The League of Women Voters of Maine believes that primary elections should encourage broad voter participation and that all voters should have the opportunity to participate in the primary election of their choice. More specifically, the LWVME supports:
- "Semi-open" primaries over the various forms of closed or fully open primaries for candidate selection at all governmental levels.
- Presidential primaries over presidential caucuses, recognizing that the rules concerning the primaries will be more consistent with League values if they are "semi-open." The League also supports Presidential primaries held on set dates that do not cause a loss of party delegates.
- The LWVME defines a "semi-open" primary as a primary in which unenrolled/unaffiliated voters may vote on one ballot per primary without having to enroll in that particular political party. Voters enrolled in a political party can vote only on the ballot of their party.
- Government, as opposed to party, funding and administration of federal, state, and county primaries. The LWVME neither supports nor opposes nonpartisan primaries. The LWVME will continue to monitor experience with nonpartisan primaries and re-examine this issue when the results of more empirical studies are available.
LWVME supports reform in the financing of state candidate PACs consistent with the LWVUS position on Campaign Finance Reform.
This means that LWVME supports measures to improve the financing of candidate PACs in order to ensure the public's right to know, combat corruption and undue influence, enable candidates to compete more equitably for public office, and promote citizen participation in the political process. Applying these principles to PAC reform in Maine provides a basis for sound action in the changing constitutional context as the Supreme Court of the U.S. reshapes the landscape of permissible reform.
The League of Women Voters of Maine supports election systems for elected offices in single seat elections that require the winner to receive a majority of the votes, as long as the majority is achieved by Instant Runoff Voting/Ranked Choice Voting, rather than a second, separate runoff election.
Equality of Opportunity (Civil Marriage) (retired in 2019)
The League of Women Voters of Maine supports equal rights for all under Maine law. LWVME supports legislation to equalize the legal rights and benefits available to same-sex couples with those available to heterosexual couples. LWVME supports legislation to permit same-sex couples to marry. The League believes that the civil status of marriage should be clearly distinguished from the religious institution of marriage and that religious rights should be preserved. LWVME believes that Maine should recognize the civil unions and same-sex marriages of other states.
Environmental Resources (inactive)
Support action to promote sustainable use of natural resources and prevent degradation of natural resources in Maine, especially in the areas of:
- Air Quality
- Water Quality
- Land Use
- Farmland Preservation
- Nuclear Power
- Food Irradiation
- Low-level Radioactive Waste
County Government (inactive)
Support intermediary form of government, such as county government, between municipalities and the state.
Strengthen education in Maine, especially in the areas of:
- Education Finance
- School Libraries
- University of Maine System
Health Care in Maine (inactive)
Support a unified state health care program that provides coverage for all residents of the state, including those now insured.
Juvenile Justice (inactive)
Support for a juvenile justice system that has as its primary purposes the prevention of juvenile crime and substance abuse and the prompt response to and rehabilitation of juveniles who have committed crimes.
Support energy-efficient and environmentally sound transportation systems which improve access to housing and services. Support initiatives which improve rail transportation in Maine.
Regional Quad State Agreement on Transportation (inactive)
The LWV 1998 Quad States Council (including the four state delegations from LWV-ME, NH, VT, RI) support action to encourage participation and cooperation in promoting regional transportation initiatives. The goal is regional planning and implementation of integrated transportation systems throughout New England. Specific objectives include:
- Construction of the North/South rail link in Boston, Massachusetts
- Passenger rail links to Canada with improved border crossings
- Measures to reduce vehicular pollution
- More energy efficient transportation system
- Passenger rail service linking all of New England
The League of Women Voters of Maine stands with Wabanaki communities and their claim to tribal sovereignty.
LWVME recognizes that tribal sovereignty means respecting the right to self-government for Wabanaki peoples. Many of the best features of American democracy were influenced by principles of equality, freedom, and respect that were common in tribal governments — much more common than in European governments at the time. Our founders were inspired by these examples as they envisioned individual liberty in our new nation. By recognizing tribal sovereignty, we reaffirm our belief in government “of the people, by the people, and for the people,” the most foundational principle of our democracy.
LWVUS does not have positions that directly address tribal sovereignty or the rights of indigenous people. However, the principles and positions laid out in the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion policy, as well as the Equality of Opportunity position, can be used to underpin action in this area. For example, from Impact on Issues, page 10: “The League of Women Voters believes every citizen should be protected in the right to vote; every person should have access to free public education that provides equal opportunity for all; and no person or group should suffer legal, economic, or administrative discrimination.”
Tribes in Maine have not benefited from 151 federal laws which have been passed since the 1980 Maine Indian Land Claim Settlement Act was signed, including laws impacting housing, education, employment equality, food security, healthcare, and healthcare access. In January, 2020, the Task Force on Changes to the Maine Indians Land Claim Settlement Implementing Act issued its consensus recommendations that, taken together, constitute what we call “tribal sovereignty.” This task force included tribal chiefs and legislative leaders from both political parties. In 2022, Harvard researchers found that lack of sovereignty has negatively impacted the economic development of Wabanaki tribes and the surrounding communities.
In the 130th legislature, the League joined the Wabanaki Alliance — a coalition of over 90 non-profit, faith-based, and racial and social justice organizations under the leadership of the Wabanaki tribes. In allyship with the tribes, we respect the sovereignty of Wabanaki peoples by basing our specific advocacy agenda in this area on the direction of the Wabanaki Alliance.
In the 130th legislature, two hundred thirty-four League members and volunteers submitted written testimony in favor of LD 1626, which encompassed the recommendations of the Task Force. LD 1626 passed in the House and Senate but died on the Special Appropriations Table at the end of the legislative session. We will continue to advocate for the full recognition of sovereignty for the Wabanaki tribes in the 131st session (2023-2024).
LWVME may also take action at the state level based on positions adopted by our national League. These positions cover a broad range of public policy areas: representative goverment, international relations, natural resources, and social policy. Read more about the Leagues national positions at the LWVUS web site.