Bear hunting ballot question released for public comment

May 17, 2014

Augusta — Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap released a draft of the bear hunting citizen initiative question May 16 that will be presented to Maine voters on the Nov. 4 ballot.

Under the law, the public will have 30 days to comment on the proposed wording of the ballot question that has been prepared.

Under the Maine Constitution, in order for a citizen initiative to move forward, proponents must file with the Secretary of State a number of signatures of registered Maine voters, equivalent to 10 percent of the votes cast at the last gubernatorial election. That number this year is 57,277 signatures. Once the signatures are certified, the legislation is transmitted to the Legislature.

On March 18, 2014, the Secretary of State, having certified that proponents of an Act to Prohibit the Use of Dogs, Bait or Traps When Hunting Bears Except Under Certain Circumstances had gathered a sufficient number of signatures, transmitted the initiated legislation to the Legislature. Members of the House and Senate had the option of enacting the measure into law, without amendment, or sending the question to the voters for a final determination. Because the initiated bill was not enacted, the question will be placed on the November ballot.

The proposed wording for the initiative question that voters will decide on, along with a link to the text of the initiated legislation, is as follows:

Do you want to ban bear hunting using bait, traps or dogs except to protect property, public safety or for research?

To view legislation visit:

The question was drafted by the Secretary of State with assistance from senior staff, the Attorney General's office, and volunteer experts serving as Ballot Clarity Advisors.

State law requires that the Secretary of State "provide a 30-day public comment period for the purpose of receiving comments on the content and form of proposed questions to be placed on the ballot for any pending initiatives."

Written public comments on the proposed question may be filed with the Secretary of State by email at; by mail at Secretary of State, Attn: Public Comment, 148 State House Station, Augusta, ME 04333-0148; or by hand at the Secretary of State's office at Nash School, 103 Sewall Street, Augusta, Maine. Public comments must be received by the Secretary of State prior to the close of business on June 16, 2014.

"The Maine Constitution directs my office to ‘to present the question or questions concisely and intelligibly' and Maine's statutes provide further instruction," Dunlap said. "When drafting the proposed ballot question, we endeavor to provide voters with a simple, clear, unbiased and easy to understand question. I am looking forward to the comments on what we have rendered so far," he added.

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