More residents in Maine showed up at the polls to vote on gun laws than they showed to vote for the President. The result was that Maine was the only state that that saw an anti-gun voter referendum defeated. Spread across the U.S. were five different ballot initiatives that made it to the polls. Gun control advocates, mainly former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, spent $33 million to push the agenda. The only upset was in Maine as voters cast their ballots rejecting an expansion on background checks to include most gun transfers.
Maine, which has predominantly been a blue state, with a track record of voting solid Democrat since 1992, still had more Hillary Clinton votes than they did for Donald Trump, However, more votes were cast for the gun referendum than for the president. According to the Portland Press Herald, 754,857 votes were cast for and against Question 3. There was a 52 percent margin selecting “No.” 741,550 votes were recorded in the presidential race. Question 3 had two percent more votes, respectively. Just a week prior to the election a UNH poll reported that only 43 percent of those surveyed were opposed to Question 3.
As Question 3 was shot down, it signified that Maine voters will not stand for campaigns financed by out of state gun control interests to change local law. This is consistent with the ballot referendums in 2014 and 2004 to modify bear hunting methods in the state. These were funded primarily by the Humane Society of the United States and also failed.
Gov. Paul LePage was a vocal opponent of Question 3 and he has since proposed to amend the state constitution on citizen’s referendums, which could make a repeat attempt more difficult. His efforts would include a collection of signatures across each individual county in Maine. LePage said, “The problem is that all the signatures can come easily from one part of the state — and it’s usually Portland and Southern Maine.”
Proponents of Question 3 payed Fieldworks, a professional canvassing organization based in Washington D.C., $572,094.87 to collect the 61,123 valid signatures needed to certify the measure for the ballot, or about $9.36 per signature. Fieldworks’ field offices for the campaign were set up in Portland and Bangor. This was likely a tough job for the canvassing company since Maine is a state where one in five residents has a hunting license and extended loans of guns under the proposal could have violated the law.
Law enforcement did not favor the referendum either. The majority of Maine’s elected sheriffs and the state game warden service opposed the proposition. LePage said, “If the citizens disagree with the decisions made in Augusta, they have the right to speak at the ballot box. However, we must make sure out-of-state money pouring into one part of the state does not control our desired way of life.”