ELLSWORTH — Maine voters have turned the lights off on the Central Maine Power (CMP) corridor — with 59 percent of voters choosing “yes” on Question 1 Tuesday to ban construction of the 145-mile transmission corridor in the Upper Kennebec region.
Voting “yes” also requires the Legislature to “approve all other such projects anywhere in Maine, both retroactively to 2020, and to require the Legislature, retroactively to 2014, to approve by a two-thirds vote such projects using public land.”
CMP’s defeat comes after the power company’s years-long battle to continue construction on the corridor, which is part of the $1 billion New England Clean Energy Connect project, designed to help Massachusetts meet its clean energy goals.
About $60 million was spent by supporters and opponents of Question 1, as evidenced by the bombardment of television campaign ads and political mail delivered to voters.
In Hancock County, voters mirrored the rest of the state, with 12,059 in favor of banning the corridor to 7,657 opposed. Waltham was the only Hancock County town to vote against the measure with 56 voters in favor and 70 opposed.
Another hot-button referendum question on the ballot was Question 3, an amendment to the state’s constitution declaring a “right to food.”
Voters approved the amendment, making Maine the first state in the nation to do so. Statewide, 61 percent of voters were in favor with more than 90 percent of districts reporting Wednesday morning.
The amendment declares that “all individuals have a natural, inherent and unalienable right to grow, raise harvest, produce and consume the food of their own choosing for their nourishment, sustenance, bodily health and well-being.”
Supporters of the amendment, which is an extension of the state’s food sovereignty movement, say it will strengthen food security in the state and protect local farmers from government overreach.
“With over 60 percent of the vote, I am overwhelmed with excitement to share that Maine will be the first in the nation to constitutionally protect food freedom!” state Rep. Billy Bob Faulkingham (R-Winter Harbor) said in a statement. Faulkingham sponsored the amendment.
“Our country and our Legislature seem more divided than ever, but the right to food was the issue that brough Democrats and Republicans together. Maine people love their freedom and their self-sufficiency — and to them it’s not political.”
Opponents of the amendment criticized the wording, calling it vague enough that animal welfare could potentially be jeopardized and that the amendment could override state and local food laws and safeguards, according to an Oct. 28 report by Maine Public.
In Hancock County, voters again mirrored the rest of the state, voting 12,127 to 7,545 in favor of the amendment. Tiny Great Pond was split on the issue. The vote there was 18-18 with a 76 percent voter turnout – the highest in Hancock County by far.
Lastly, voters approved Question 2, a $100 million transportation bond, by 72 percent.
“On behalf of the nearly 1,700 dedicated and hardworking team members at the Maine Department of Transportation, I want to thank Maine voters for approving Question 2 today,” said Maine Department of Transportation Commissioner Bruce Van Note in a statement.
“The $100 million general obligation funds connected to Question 2 will trigger up to $253 million in other investments from federal, local and private partners. Combined, this funding represents about 40 percent of what MaineDOT spends on transportation funding every year.”
In Hancock County, 14,882 voters supported the bond and 4,884 rejected it.
County-wide, voter turnout was 41 percent with 19,910 ballots cast.