The gist

This citizen’s initiative would prohibit foreign influence in elections for candidates and ballot questions.

Ballot question

Do you want to ban foreign governments and entities that they own, control, or influence from making campaign contributions or financing communications for or against candidates or ballot questions?1

Yes means No means
I want to prevent foreign influence in elections for candidates and ballot questions. I don't want to prevent foreign influence in elections for candidates and ballot questions.

Tell me more

Currently, federal law prohibits foreign investment for federal, state, and local candidates, but not for ballot questions. 2 Passing this measure would bring Maine in line with the federal law for candidates, but would prohibit spending allowed by federal law for ballot questions. There are 7 states that currently ban foreign spending for ballot questions. 2

If passed, news outlets would need to enact policies ensuring that campaign ads comply. 3

This initiative is a response to Canadian investment in the Hydro-Quebec campaign. 3

This question is a citizen’s initiative, which is a way for Mainers to propose new laws. In order to become a valid initiative, a petition supporting the initiative must collect over 60,000 signatures.

Follow the money

  • There is expected to be negligible cost to state and local governments for reporting required for this initiative. 4
  • This initiative would create a new Class C crime for violations that could require putting violators in prison at a cost of $55,203 per year per prisoner. 4


The primary arguments for this referendum are:

  • It keeps influence in elections to those in the state.


The primary arguments against this referendum are:

  • Campaigns for candidates and ballot questions could also have less money available to spend if they don’t have foreign investments.
  • News outlets would have to create and enforce compliance policies for campaign ads. 3
  • The 5% threshold for foreign ownership would subject a lot of companies to this ban. 3

Who cares

Support 4

  • Protect Maine Elections
  • Sen. Rick Bennett

Opposition 3

  • Gov. Janet Mills
  • Maine Forest Products Council
  • Maine State Chamber of Commerce
  • Maine Association of Broadcasters

Further reading

Full Text
Ballotpedia Article
Portland Press Herald Article


  1. Maine Secretary of State. An Act To Prohibit Campaign Spending by Foreign Governments and Promote an Anticorruption Amendment to the United States Constitution. Accessed October 6, 2023. 

  2. Ballotpedia State Desk. Maine Question 2, Prohibit Foreign Spending in Elections Initiative (2023). Ballotpedia. Accessed October 6, 2023  2

  3. Billings, Randy. Question 2: What you need to know about the foreign campaign spending ban. Portland Press Herald. Accessed October 6, 2023.  2 3 4 5

  4. Bellows, Shenna. Maine Citizen’s Guide to the Referendum Election. Accessed October 6, 2023.  2 3