Thursday, December 1, 2016

Maine cannabis initiative recount begins Monday

Group withdraws request for recount of education surcharge vote - The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram - Gillian Graham:

November 29, 2016 - "The group opposed to a new income-tax surcharge on Tuesday withdrew its request for a recount of the Nov. 8 referendum results.... The recount of the tax referendum – Question 2 on the ballot – was scheduled to begin Thursday and would have been conducted at the same time as a recount of the marijuana legalization referendum, which was Question 1....

"Opponents of [marijuana] legalization in Maine requested the recount after unofficial results showed the question passed by a margin of less than 1 percent – 4,073 votes (381,692 to 377,619), according to unofficial results from the Secretary of State’s Office.

"The Question 1 recount is scheduled to begin Monday in the Florian Room of the Maine Department of Public Safety in Augusta. It is open to the public.

"Unless the referendum results are overturned by the recount, possession and recreational use of limited amounts of marijuana will become legal for adults 21 and older by Jan. 7.

"Maine was one of four states that voted last week to legalize recreational marijuana for adults 21 and older. Eight states and Washington, D.C., now have voted to legalize a recreational cannabis market....

"State officials say even one recount could take four to six weeks to complete and, if it goes on that long, could cost up to $500,000 in staff time, overtime and additional costs, such as paying for the Maine State Police to pick up padlocked and sealed ballot boxes from 503 individual towns and deliver them to Augusta. State police estimate it costs about $70,000 to collect ballots from 100 towns. Dunlap said there are additional costs to his office, including overtime for employees who are being pulled away from their regular work.

"Maine has never had a statewide recount that included every ballot, because the requesting group dropped it after a partial review. In 2010, opponents of the Oxford Casino referendum stopped a recount after a review of about 25 percent of ballots showed no significant change in results."

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