2020 Maine Question 1

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Question 1

March 3, 2020 (2020-03-03)

Do you want to reject the new law that removes religious and philosophical exemptions to requiring immunization against certain communicable diseases for students to attend schools and colleges and for employees of nursery schools and health care facilities?
Results
Response Votes %
Yes 105,214 27.09%
No 281,750 72.54%
Blank votes 1,429 0.37%
Source: [1]

2020 Maine Question 1 was a people's veto referendum that sought to reject a new law which eliminated religious and philosophical exemptions from school vaccination requirements and for employees of nursery schools and health care facilities. The question appeared on the March 3, 2020 statewide ballot.

The vote coincided with the Democratic and Republican presidential primaries for the U.S. presidential election in November 2020.

The veto effort was defeated 73%-27%.[1]

LD 798[edit]

On April 23, 2019, The Maine House of Representatives voted 78-59 to pass LD 798, "An Act To Protect Maine Children and Students from Preventable Diseases by Repealing Certain Exemptions from the Laws Governing Immunization Requirements". The bill was sponsored by Ryan Tipping (D-Orono).[2]

The Maine State Senate passed the bill 20-15 on May 2 but amended it to keep religious exemptions.[3] The House rejected the amendment on May 7 and sent the bill back to the Senate.[4]

On May 23, the Senate reversed course and passed the bill, without the religious exemption, by a vote of 19-16.[5][6] On May 24, 2019, Maine governor Janet Mills signed the bill into law effective September 2021. Maine thus became the fourth state in the US to allow only medical exemptions for school immunization requirements.[7]

Petition effort[edit]

Prior to the September 19, 2019 deadline, opponents of the new law submitted 95,071 signatures to Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap.[8] Of those, 79,000 were deemed valid, surpassing the 63,067 required for the veto effort to be included on a statewide ballot.[9] (In Maine, a number of valid signatures equalling 10% of the votes cast in the previous gubernatorial election are required for a people's veto to be accepted for inclusion on a statewide ballot.)[10]

Date of the vote[edit]

While signatures were being gathered, Dunlap's office told organizers of the veto effort that, if qualified for the ballot, the vote would coincide with state legislative and congressional primary elections in June 2020. However, that guidance failed to take into account the recent change in the law to hold primary elections for presidential nominees, as opposed to a caucus, on the March 3 Super Tuesday. Thus the referendum vote would be held on March 3, as it was the next scheduled statewide election. Dunlap's office admitted to the error, but said that it has no discretion over when to schedule elections and explained that timing is generally not discussed until petitions are submitted and validated, which had not happened yet.[11]

Yes vs. No[edit]

"Yes on 1 to Reject Big Pharma"[edit]

Supporters of the veto campaign, who wished to restore religious and philosophical exemptions for required vaccination, became "Yes on 1 to Reject Big Pharma."

"Maine has the opportunity to undo this assault on our freedom. Send a message to the pharmaceutical industry and government officials that we will not surrender this basic human right. Help preserve medical freedom in Maine. Vote yes on Question 1." Donna Dodge, resident of Denmark, Maine[12]

"No on 1 to Protect Maine's Children"[edit]

Opponents of the veto, who wished to allow only medical exemptions for required vaccination, became "No on 1 to Protect Maine's Children."

"Right now, Maine’s community immunity rates are not high enough to ensure that children who cannot be immunized attend safe schools. On behalf of all children, our communities and the legacy of prioritizing health and education in Maine, on March 3 please vote “No” on Question 1." Anne Coates, pediatric pulmonologist, Maine Medical Center Pediatric Specialty Care[13]

Campaign[edit]

On February 4, 2020, campaigns on both sides of the referendum held campaign kickoff events at the Maine State House.[14]

Yes on 1 was endorsed by state senators Matthew Pouliot (R-Kennebec) & Lisa Keim (R-Oxford); state representatives Robert Foley (R-Wells), Justin Fecteau (R-Augusta) and Heidi Sampson (R-Alfred); and Christiane Northrup.

No on 1 was endorsed by the Maine Medical Association, the Maine Dental Association, the Maine Hospital Association, the Maine Osteopathic Association, the Barbara Bush Children's Hospital, the Maine Association of School Nurses, the American Academy of Pediatrics, EqualityMaine, Governor Janet Mills[15][16] the Bangor Daily News,[17] the Portland Press Herald,[18] and The Ellsworth American.[19]

Supporters of the veto raised over $640,000 while the opposition raised close to $875,000.

Top contributions to the 2020 Maine Question 1 campaign
"Yes" contributor (to overturn the new law) Amount "No" contributor (to keep the new law) Amount
Organic Consumers Association $50,000 Merck Sharp and Dohme $250,000
Stephanie Grondin, office manager at Capital City Chiropractic $25,000 Pfizer $250,000
Adaptive Digital Media $19,500 Biotechnology Innovation Organization $98,000
Aaron Hoshide, University of Maine professor $13,500 Maine Hospital Association $50,000
Contributions of $50 or less $57,957 Contributions of $50 or less $11,487

[20][21][22][23]

Results[edit]

The veto effort was defeated 73% (281,750) to 27% (105,214). A total of 386,964 votes were cast.

Breakdown of voting by county
County Yes Votes No Votes
Androscoggin 30.64% 7,866 69.28% 17,787
Aroostook 37.04% 4,879 62.96% 8,295
Cumberland 17.40% 17,846 82.60% 84,718
Franklin 34.90% 3,000 67.10% 5,597
Hancock 33.25% 5,830 66.75% 11,702
Kennebec 29.49% 9,849 70.51% 23,550
Knox 25.94% 3,644 74.06% 10,405
Lincoln 24.87% 3,071 75.13% 9,276
Oxford 32.12% 4,798 67.88% 10,141
Penobscot 35.02% 12,647 64.98% 23,464
Piscataquis 47.16% 1,951 52.84% 2,186
Sagadahoc 22.96% 2,931 77.04% 9,833
Somerset 42.59% 4,836 57.41% 6,518
Waldo 37.26% 4,730 62.74% 7,965
Washington 42.16% 3,319 57.84% 4,554
York 23.69% 13,848 76.31% 44,595
Total (inc. UOCAVA) 27.19% 105,214 72.81% 281,750

[24]

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "March 2020 Maine statewide and local election results". Portland Press Herald. Archived from the original on January 1, 2021. Retrieved January 1, 2021.
  2. ^ Cough, Kate (April 29, 2019). "Vaccine exemption bill passes House". The Ellsworth American. Archived from the original on January 1, 2021. Retrieved January 1, 2021.
  3. ^ Schools, Jeffrey; Associated Press. "Religious exemptions restored in vaccine bill passed by Maine Senate". News Center Maine. Archived from the original on January 1, 2021. Retrieved January 1, 2021.
  4. ^ Niam, Lee; Carrigan, Don (May 7, 2019). "Vaccine bill's Senate amendment rejected by Maine House". News Center Maine. Archived from the original on January 1, 2021. Retrieved January 1, 2021.
  5. ^ Villeneuve, Marina (May 23, 2019). "Maine Bill to End Personal Vaccine Opt-Outs Heads to Governor". NBC 10 Boston. Archived from the original on January 1, 2021. Retrieved January 1, 2021.
  6. ^ Mistler, Steve (May 15, 2019). "In Reversal, Maine Senate Drops Religious Exemptions From Vaccination Bill". Maine Public. Archived from the original on January 1, 2021. Retrieved January 1, 2021.
  7. ^ Simko-Bednarski, Evan. "Maine bars residents from opting out of immunizations for religious or philosophical reasons". CNN. Archived from the original on May 27, 2019. Retrieved January 1, 2021.
  8. ^ "People's veto of immunization law qualifies for 2020 ballot". WGME. Archived from the original on January 1, 2021. Retrieved January 1, 2021.
  9. ^ "People's veto effort to repeal vaccination law qualifies for ballot". Maine.gov. Archived from the original on January 1, 2021. Retrieved January 1, 2021.
  10. ^ "People's Veto Application Packet". Maine.gov. Archived from the original on January 1, 2021. Retrieved January 1, 2021.
  11. ^ "Organizers Of 'People's Veto' Initiatives Consider Suing Maine Secretary of State's Office". MPBN. August 10, 2019. Retrieved January 12, 2020.
  12. ^ Dodge, Donna. "Vote yes on Question 1". The Bangor Daily News. Archived from the original on January 2, 2020. Retrieved January 2, 2021.
  13. ^ Coates, Anne (February 18, 2020). "Letter to the editor: Childhood diseases devastate those without immunity". The Portland Press Herald. Archived from the original on January 2, 2020. Retrieved January 2, 2021.
  14. ^ Wight, Patty (February 4, 2020). "Battle Lines Drawn In Fight Over Vaccination Exemptions In Maine". Maine Public. Archived from the original on January 1, 2021. Retrieved January 1, 2021.
  15. ^ The Associated Press (January 31, 2020). "Janet Mills opposes March referendum bid to overturn Maine vaccine law". Bangor Daily News. Archived from the original on January 1, 2021. Retrieved January 1, 2021.
  16. ^ Mills, Janet (February 24, 2020). "Gov. Mills: Join me in protecting our children. Vote No on 1 March 3". Archived from the original on January 1, 2021. Retrieved January 1, 2021.
  17. ^ The BDN Editorial Board. "Vote no on Question 1. Don't let preventable diseases make a comeback". Bangor Daily News. Archived from the original on January 1, 2021. Retrieved January 1, 2021.
  18. ^ Editorial Board. "Our View: Listen to those who remember life before vaccines". Portland Press Herald. Archived from the original on January 1, 2021. Retrieved January 1, 2021.
  19. ^ Editorial Board. "No on 1". The Ellsworth American. Archived from the original on January 1, 2021. Retrieved January 1, 2021.
  20. ^ "Mainers for Health and Parental Rights". Maine Ethics Commission. Retrieved January 1, 2021.
  21. ^ "Yes on 1 Maine to Reject Big Pharma". Maine Ethics Commission. Retrieved January 1, 2021.
  22. ^ "Maine Famlies for Vaccines PAC". Maine Ethics Commission. Archived from the original on January 1, 2021. Retrieved January 1, 2021.
  23. ^ "Maine Street Solutions - Protect Schools". Maine Ethics Commission. Archived from the original on February 24, 2020. Retrieved January 1, 2021.
  24. ^ Lawlor, Joe. "'No' vote – to keep state's new vaccine law – wins by overwhelming margin". Portland Press Herald. Archived from the original on March 5, 2020. Retrieved January 1, 2021.