More Mainers voted on minimum wage question than on presidential race

More Mainers voted on minimum wage question than on presidential race

Preliminary numbers and analysis from the Associated Press show that more than 10,000 Maine voters (1.4% of the total) cast ballots indicating a preference on Question 4 (which passed with 55.5% of the vote) while declining to vote in the presidential contest.

Voters also cast more ballots on Questions 1, 2, and 3, which sought to legalize recreational marijuana, raise taxes to fund education and institute universal background checks, than chose a candidate for president. Because Question 4 won with such a wide margin, however, the difference in votes between the Yes side of the referendum and any particular presidential candidate was particularly stark.

82,000 more Maine voters voted to raise the minimum wage than voted for Republican Donald Trump and 62,000 more voted Yes on 4 than cast ballots for statewide winner Democrat Hillary Clinton.

The referendums also beat out the Congressional races for voter attention, with 12,000 more votes on the minimum wage referendum than for the four candidates in Maine’s two Congressional Districts, combined.

The minimum wage increase was popular across the state, winning with 54% of the vote even in more-rural and conservative Washington and Aroostook counties.

Overall statewide turnout was close to a record 74% of the voting-age population, based on preliminary results.

The minimum wage question on the ballot, the longest for any citizen-initiated referendum in state history, read: “Do you want to raise the minimum hourly wage of $7.50 to $9 in 2017, with annual $1 increases up to $12 in 2020, and annual cost-of-living increases thereafter; and do you want to raise the direct wage for service workers who receive tips from half the minimum wage to $5 in 2017, with annual $1 increases until it reaches the adjusted minimum wage?”

An alliance of corporate lobbyists have already announced plans to try to roll-back portions of the minimum wage law, but the detailed question combined with high turnout, a high margin of victory and the fact that voters sought out the minimum wage measure while leaving the presidential race blank will likely make it difficult for them to argue that Mainers didn’t understand what they were voting for.

Photo: Polling booths and voter registration tables on Election Day in Orono

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