Politics and Other Mistakes

The drunkard’s guide to the next Maine election

There’s a lot of weird shit on the November ballot. And that’s even before you get to the latest futile effort to gut rent control in Portland or the race for the city’s mayor, neither of which I’ll be discussing because: futile, and nobody cares who’s mayor except sober people.

As for the rest of the ballot crap, you’ll probably be too loaded to pay attention until it’s nearly Election Day, when, in desperation, you’ll interrupt me while I’m sitting peacefully in a bar and demand I explain these complex issues in terms somebody who’s had five margaritas can understand.

To avoid my profane response, here’s what you need to know to fool the world into thinking you’re not plastered.

Abortion. Forget it. It’s not on the ballot, because the pro-life side wimped out on attempting a People’s Veto of Gov. Janet Mills’ legislation increasing access to late-term abortions. Instead, the right-wingers will conspire next year to defeat pro-choice legislators, while trying to elect more anti-abortion chuds. Worry about this one when 2024 rolls around.

Electric vehicles. Nope, this isn’t up for a vote, either, although you’d think it was the way Republicans are griping about the state’s goal of combating climate change by increasing the number of battery-powered cars and trucks that most Mainers can’t afford and would have no place to plug in if they could.

Homeless encampments full of poop. I mean literal shit, not the metaphorical type mentioned in the first sentence. Everybody is hoping this unsightly problem goes away when winter arrives. But you’d have to be hammered to think marking a box on a ballot could encourage blizzards or obliterate homelessness. 

OK, so much for real issues. Let’s discuss the stuff that’s actually up for a vote.

Question 1 is here because Central Maine Power spent millions collecting the signatures needed to put it out to referendum. Its sole purpose is to thwart the intent of Question 3, which, if it passes, would create a publicly owned electric utility that would buy out CMP and Versant Power. But to do that, the proposed Pine Tree Power Co. would have to borrow billions. If this question passes, Pine Tree would need another round of voter approval, thereby delaying or derailing the takeover. The idea of public power giving us cheaper juice is likely a scam, but this question is an even bigger one.

Question 2 would ban foreign governments and their puppets, such as Hydro Quebec, from spending money to influence Maine referendum campaigns. It’s opposed by foreign governments, their puppets and Gov. Mills and supported by damn near everyone else. Even an alky-brained dolt could figure out how to vote on this puppy.

Question 3 is the public-power thingy. If you love CMP, you’ll vote “no” and seek psychiatric help. If you hate CMP and don’t care about the unintended consequences, you’ll vote “yes.” If you hate CMP, but fear this will end badly, you’ll vote “maybe” (if that were an option, which it’s not).

Question 4 would legalize the Right to Repair. What that means is that automobile manufacturers would be required to share their secret diagnostic systems to allow independent car-repair shops to fix the advanced computer doohickeys on your vehicle, something that only authorized dealers can currently do. It’s a no-brainer, except it’ll be tied up in court forever.

Question 5 is a constitutional amendment, which sounds important. It’s not. It changes the time limit on something called “Judicial Review of the Determination of the Validity of Written Petitions” from 100 days to 100 business days. Who the fuck cares?

Question 6 is a more significant amendment that restores to the written constitution a bunch of provisions dealing with the state’s relations with and obligations to Native Americans — provisions that were removed decades ago for some unknown reason (hint: racism), but remain in effect, anyway. This amendment is only symbolic, but in a good way.

Question 7 is also an amendment that’s needed because, weirdly enough, part of Maine’s Constitution is unconstitutional. The document requires anyone circulating referendum petitions to be a Maine citizen and registered voter. Federal courts have said that’s an unreasonable restriction on out-of-staters’ right to pester people while they’re trying to get to the bar before happy hour ends.

Question 8 fixes yet another unconstitutional bit. The state’s fundamental law prohibits people with mental illness who are under a guardianship from voting. Yet convicted criminals, neo-Nazis and Elvis impersonators can vote. If that seems impaired to you, your thinking is in line with federal legal decisions.

Finally (or maybe first, they haven’t decided yet), there’ll be a question asking if you want to get rid of the current state flag (the one with the sailor, farmer and moose) and replace it with the original flag (the one with a pine tree and star). No matter how inebriated you are, you can’t do too much damage whichever way you vote.

Now that I’ve explained all this, there’s no excuse for bothering me by e-mailing aldiamon@herniahill.net.

%d bloggers like this: