WINTER HARBOR — Mitt Romney. Beto O’Rourke. Billy Bob Faulkingham. All three politicians are best known by their nicknames. If you want to get elected, you’ve got to connect with the voters. But what happens when the name everyone knows you by is different from the one that will appear on the ballot?
Newly elected state Rep. Billy Bob Faulkingham (R–Winter Harbor) is the sponsor of a bill to address that situation. He speaks from experience.
“I actually had a time where someone was buying lobster traps from me and told me that the only person they voted for in the election that won was named ‘William.’ I said ‘who?’ And he told me ‘William Faulkingham.’ And I told him ‘You’re looking at the guy.’”
Faulkingham, a fisherman, was elected state representative for District 136, which stretches from Steuben to the Schoodic Peninsula and over through Sullivan and Hancock to Mariaville.
One piece of legislation he is sponsoring is designed to allow candidates with nicknames to use them in elections. LD 517, “An Act to Facilitate Fair Ballot Representation for All Candidates,” “permits a candidate to request that the candidate’s nickname appear on the ballot for an election in the State.”
“My name on the ballot was William Robert Faulkingham, but I go by Billy Bob. This allows people with a nickname to have it be on the ballot,” said Faulkingham.
The bill has had a hearing with the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee, but has been tabled for a continuing work session.
“The Secretary of State had some concerns about people using … colorful nicknames,” said Faulkingham. “I spoke with him and we’re going to try and work something out. So we’ll have another work session to come up with a solution.”
The bill is one of several that Faulkingham is sponsoring in the Legislature. LD 186 would amend the Constitution of Maine to state that only a U.S. citizen can vote in state, county, municipal, or other local elections.
“The bill is a response to recent efforts to allow noncitizens to vote in the city of Portland and other parts of the country. Since it proposes to amend the Maine Constitution, it would require a statewide ballot question for Maine voters before taking effect,” wrote John Bott, director of communications for the House Republican Office, in an email.
A proposal was put forward by Portland’s mayor last year to allow non-citizens to vote in local elections. However, the City Council tabled the matter in August. Faulkingham’s bill went before a public hearing in Augusta on Monday.
“It went pretty well. There were a couple of people who had immigrated to this country who testified in favor of it,” said Faulkingham. “I think it’s something that the people are eager to vote on.”
An amendment to the state’s Constitution would require two-thirds of each branch of the Legislature to approve it.
Faulkingham is also sponsoring a piece of legislation that would provide more transparency in asset seizure by law enforcement. LD 677 would establish a case-tracking system and reporting guidelines for any property taken by law enforcement. The bill was heard before the Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety earlier this week.
“Right now we don’t have a lot of reporting guidelines in terms of how it is reported by law enforcement,” said Faulkingham. “It’s about having some transparency in the process for everyone.”