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Statutory Bond Question Requirements Amplify -NOT Negate Maine Constituion



TWEET THIS http://goo.gl/VcBj8O
UPDATE NOV 11 2014: Since I wrote This post- I cam across the statute governing Bond Ratification- as amended by the 2013 legislature It looks to be that the sentence "To meet the requirement that the signed statement of the Treasurer of State accompany any ballot question for ratification of a bond issue, the statement may be printed on the ballot" was amended by adding this "or it may be printed as a separate document that is made available to voters as provided in Title 21-A, sections 605-A and 651" Section 605-A no longer exists and I am tracking it down. Section 651 says it can be posted outside the guardrail which separates voters from the rest of the world. I am writing a new post to cover this new information

Update Nov 12, 2014!  The link I originally referenced is here
THIS IS HOW THE LAW WAS WRITTEN IN 2011- showing the process of incrementalism at play

In this link  part of the sentence

below is struck out:

§152. Ratification of bond issue; signed statement

12 ....To meet the 
13 requirement that the signed statement of the Treasurer of State accompany any ballot 
14 question for ratification of a bond issue, the statement may be printed on the ballot or it 
15 may be printed as a separate document that is

WORDS STRUCK OUT
posted in each voting booth on election day 

16 and, in the case of absentee voting, the statement must be made available to each voter 
17 who votes in the presence of the municipal clerk or provided along with the ballot to each 
18 absentee voter who does not vote in the presence of the municipal clerk voters as 

19 provided in Title 21-A, sections 605 and 651.


Later I found the same section as it is now published in the Maine Statutes:

§152. Ratification of bond issue; signed statement

In accordance with the Constitution of Maine, Article IX, section 14, the Treasurer of State shall prepare a signed statement, called the Treasurer's Statement, to accompany any question submitted to the electors for ratification of a bond issue setting forth the total amount of bonds of the State outstanding and unpaid, the total amount of bonds of the State authorized and unissued and the total amount of bonds of the State contemplated to be issued if the enactment submitted to the electors should be ratified. The Treasurer of State shall also set forth in that statement an estimate of costs involved, including explanation of, based on such factors as interest rates that may vary, the interest cost contemplated to be paid on the amount to be issued, the total cost of principal and interest that will be paid at maturity and any other substantive explanatory information relating to the debt of the State as the Treasurer of State considers appropriate. To meet the requirement that the signed statement of the Treasurer of State accompany any ballot question for ratification of a bond issue, the statement may be printed on the ballot or it may be printed as a separate document that is made available to voters as provided in Title 21-A, sections 605-A and 651. [2013, c. 131, §1 (AMD).]
SECTION HISTORY
1979, c. 534, §2 (NEW). 2007, c. 515, §1 (AMD). 2011, c. 342, §3 (AMD). 2013, c. 131, §1 (AMD).
See this following  blog post to see what that means 

I have been rethinking the 2011 statute and I have realized that it does not negate the constitutional requirement that the required information accompany the bond question- it simply adds statutory requirements that amplify the methods of making the public aware about the fiscal impact of the bonds on which they are voting. -in my most humble layman and citizen's opinion!

And so This is how I replied to the response I received to my inquiry to the Boothbay Town Office:


Dear Bonnie Lewis,
Thank you for replying to my question.

 How was the voter informed that the fiscal impact information was available. I know I was not and was looking for it to be stated on the ballot- or accompanied to the ballot s is stated in the Maine Constitution- which takes precedence over the additional requirements created in a 2011 statute,which I became aware of only after the fact of voting and finding that the information was not accompanying the bond questions.


Article IX.

General Provisions.
Section 14.  Authority and procedure for issuance of bonds. 

........Whenever ratification by the electors is essential to the validity of bonds to be issued on behalf of the State, the question submitted to the electors shall be accompanied by a statement setting forth the total amount of bonds of the State outstanding and unpaid, the total amount of bonds of the State authorized and unissued, and the total amount of bonds of the State contemplated to be issued if the enactment submitted to the electors be ratified......... 
 I understand that in 2011 the legislature amplified what the constitution requires - and said that the constitutionally required information is to additionally be posted somewhere outside the guard rail which separates those voting from those waiting to vote. I didn’t see this or any one reading it or any notice telling the voter that such information is available.
2. Election materials distributed and posted.   At any time after the materials are received and before the polls are open, the clerk may open the packages or boxes of election materials, break the seals on the packages not marked "ballots," and use the materials for instructional purposes. The election officials shall post one instruction poster in each voting booth and at least one instruction poster outside the guardrail where it is visible to voters before they have voted. The election officials shall also post one set of sample ballots or one set of sample ballot labels for each ballot being used in that voting place, along with one poster of the constitutional resolutions and statewide referenda, outside the guardrail where they are visible to voters. The election officials shall post a list of any declared write-in candidates for that voting district, with the office sought, next to the sample ballot. On election day, the clerk or the election officials must post the voter instructional materials described in section 605-A, if applicable to the election, as follows:A In each voting booth: one voting instruction poster prepared under section 605-A; andB Outside the guardrail enclosure at each voting place:(1) At least one voting instruction poster prepared under section 605-A;(2) One set of sample ballots for each ballot style being used in that voting place;(3) A list of any declared write-in candidates for that voting district, with the office sought, next to the sample ballots;(4) One voting rights poster or notice prepared under section 605-A;(5) One election penalty poster or notice prepared under section 605-A;(6) One Treasurer's Statement prepared under Title 5, section 152;(7) One citizen's guide to the referendum election prepared under section 605-A; and(8) One copy of the Office of Fiscal and Program Review's estimate of the fiscal impact prepared under Title 1, section 353.
However from what you are saying “outside the guard rail” is the only requirement that can said to have been satisfied - by stopping in your office, located outside the guard rail, and requesting to see the “Fiscal Impact Statements Poster” which is a statutory requirement. The requirement that the information accompany the bond question has even greater authority because it is a constitutional mandate in order for the bonds to be ratified.

So the way I read it , to comply with the constitution , the ballot needs to be “accompanied by “ a printout of the total amount of bonds of the State outstanding and unpaid, the total amount of bonds of the State authorized and unissued, and the total amount of bonds of the State contemplated to be issued if the enactment submitted to the electors be ratified.........
 In another section the 2011 statute says this:
An Act To Amend the Election Laws and Other Related Laws
D.The Treasurer's Statement must be prepared according to Title 5, section 152 to accompany ballots containing any statewide bond issues. The Secretary of State  must include written instructions on each referendum ballot that indicate where the voter may view the Treasurer's Statement on the Secretary of State's publicly accessible website.

And according to the 2011 statute- it was also supposed to be posted outside the guardrail with an additional message on the ballot that the information is also available on the Secretary of State’s website. There was no such notice on the ballot that I could observe and so the ballot not only violated constitutional requirements but also statutory requirements.
So if we are still a state governed by our constitution, the bonds cannot be ratified. –just saying.




From: Bonnie Lewis
Sent: Thursday, November 06, 2014 10:30 AM





Susan,
I have had the Citizen’s Guide to the Referendum Election, which is a booklet that the Secretary of State’s office sent in early Sept. so that voters could read through it to be informed when voting, as well as a poster with an abbreviated version.   The sample ballots were posted when  “Absentee Ballots”   became available, which was Oct. 6, 2014. 
I didn’t have anything to hand out to each voter.  But the voter could have stopped in to review the booklet, or “Fiscal Impact Statements Poster” .  This information was also available on the Secretary of State’s website at   www.Miane.gov/sos/cec
Hope this information answers your questions.  Let me know if I can be of any further assistance.
Sincerely,

Bonnie D. Lewis
Boothbay Town Clerk

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