LEWISTON — The group hoping to move the city’s municipal election from November to June is having a little trouble gathering enough signatures before the March deadline.

Organizer Luke Jensen said supporters may form a committee to take the lead in gathering signatures and to promote the charter change once they do. Changing election dates would discourage part-time residents — such as Bates College students — from voting on municipal matters but make it easier for senior citizens to vote, Jensen said.

Bates College classes typically end late in May, with commencement at the end of the month. Bates students usually return and classes start again in August. They could still vote at the polls in November’s state and national elections, but would need to vote via absentee ballots for a June municipal election.

“It’s basically just rolling back the red carpet we’ve put out for Bates students, and making it easier for other residents to vote at the same time,” he said.

Jensen said it’s the number of signatures that’s the problem. Since Jensen’s group hopes to change the City Charter, they need more signatures than if they’d wanted to reverse a council decision or pass an ordinance.

“We are close to 1,000 signatures, but it’s tough to put an exact number down,” Jensen said Monday. “A lot of people have petitions out and I don’t know how far each one is along. If it were just an ordinance change, we’d have the signatures by now.”

Jensen’s group needs 2,736 signatures. By contrast, a petition drive to overturn city support for Phyllis St. Laurent housing in June 2014 needed 859 valid signatures. A 2013 petition drive to create a commission to draft a Lewiston-Auburn charter needed 1,000 signatures from both Lewiston and Auburn to get a spot on the ballot.

According to the charter, the municipal vote is set on the first Tuesday after the first Monday of November every odd-numbered year.

The proposed change would move it to the second Tuesday of June in the odd numbered years.

Jensen said the proposed change is a reaction to Bates College students’ influence on city votes. All Bates students vote in Lewiston’s Wards 1 and 3. Those two wards showed the greatest support for the sole liberal candidate for mayor in the November election.

“People are realizing this isn’t a partisan issue, but rather a local resident issue,” Jensen wrote in an email. “Many people have reached out directly for me to bring the petition to them to sign it, and requests continue to come in.”

Jensen, one of several mayoral candidates last year, began the petition drive soon after November’s vote.

[email protected]


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.