I Voted stickers in red, white, and blue scattered across a white surfaceIn addition to the eight state ballot questions this November, residents of Penobscot will have their own referendum to consider: “Shall the citizens of Penobscot call on the Maine Legislature to create a publicly funded healthcare plan that provides every Maine resident with comprehensive medical care?” (For the full text of the referendum, click here.)

David Jolly, a Penobscot resident and board member for Maine AllCare, asked the town’s selectboard to put the referendum on the November ballot and the three selectboard members agreed to do so. Maine AllCare is a statewide nonprofit that advocates for universal health care in Maine and across the U.S.

“The Penobscot selectboard understands that there are many in our community who are concerned about the future of our health care system,” said selectboard member Sara Leighton. ”We feel it’s important for our citizens to make their voices heard. We are very proud that Penobscot is the first town in Maine to have this type of ballot initiative on universal health care, and it is our hope that voters come out in droves to weigh in on this important issue.”

Maine AllCare volunteers have presented similar measures to town selectboards and city councils and 12 have passed, including one in Penobscot in 2020, but the current effort in Penobscot is the first time the question is being put directly to voters.

If the Penobscot referendum succeeds, Maine AllCare intends to launch similar initiatives in other towns and cities across the state, with the goal of demonstrating that there is widespread support for a publicly funded universal health care system in Maine.

“Comprehensive health care reform is unlikely at the federal level any time soon,” David Jolly said. “But change is possible at the state level and Maine AllCare wants to put pressure on our legislators to make that happen. That’s why we’re asking the people of Penobscot to vote yes on this referendum.”

Maine AllCare will hold an information session on the referendum on Wednesday, October 4, 6–7 pm, at the Penobscot Community School to provide information about the referendum and the state of health care in Maine and to talk with attendees about their views, experiences and  concerns.

The Penobscot selectboard will conduct a public hearing about the referendum on Tuesday, October 17, 6–7 pm, at the school, giving residents another opportunity to discuss issues related to the referendum.

Full text of the referendum

For more information, contact David Jolly at dhjolly49@gmail.com or (919) 451-0908.