Clean Elections

We Want Clean Elections!

Our government works best when everyone participates and everyone’s voice is heard.

However, in the current, out-of-balance system, wealthy special interests and big-money donors hold too much power, while candidates have to spend too much time raising money, rather than talking with voters and connecting with the community (see the data here).

That’s why Portlanders of every background and political persuasion are coming together to vote “Yes on 3 for Clean Elections” and expand Maine’s popular and successful Clean Elections program to include candidates for local office. This fall Portland will put power back in the hands of the people and empower public servants to get back to doing what they ran to do – representing US, not wealthy special interests.




SEPTEMBER UPDATE: Clean Elections will be on the ballot November 8 as Question 3! Read more about what is included in Question 3 in our FAQ here.


JULY UPDATE: The Charter Commission has released its final report, which recommends historic changes to the structure of the Portland city government. Before we know the exact ballot language, the City Council will hold a meeting to conduct a reading with time for public comment in July-August. Once this is approved, voters can look forward to voting on a series of measures proposed by the Charter Commission in November. We're excited that Clean Elections will be on the ballot! Stay tuned for more information once we know how the ballot will shape up.


MARCH UPDATE: Court upholds Portland’s position to pursue clean elections proposal as a charter revision.

Although we are disappointed in the decision, Justice McKeon makes clear that nothing in the Charter or the Constitution compelled the 2019 City Council to reject the Clean Elections ballot question, nor the 2021 City Council to stand by that decision. It was up to the Council to decide. As the Court noted (p. 14) , ‘The City Council could have found that the proposal was an amendment.’ Fair Elections Portland has consistently argued that the Council should have designated the proposal as a charter amendment.

The Court also agreed with Fair Election Portland that, contrary to the instructions of corporation counsel last summer and fall, the 2021 Council ‘could have heard more evidence in light of the Law Court’s decision.’ (p. 11.) Fair Elections Portland has consistently argued that the Portland City Council should promptly reconsider its earlier decision and carefully weigh all of the evidence before it.

Over 8,000 Portland voters demanded the chance for a say on this measure. It will take a little longer for the will of the voters to be heard, but we remain confident that multiple options exist for reversing the 2019 City Council’s erroneous decision. While we weigh how vulnerable the court opinion is to appellate review, we will also consider more expeditious options for working with others who share our commitment to a pathway for prompt ballot placement.

Going forward, we will continue to establish clean elections in Portland. But we will also support the work of our community members and partners. We must hold our government accountable. We can create a city that's more inclusive and accessible to those traditionally left out. We will work to give a voice to the vulnerable. 



On June 8th, 2021, the Charter Commission election, Portland voters elected 9 candidates, all who had previously indicated support for municipal Clean Elections. For the second time, Portland voters have indicated their support for Clean Elections in the city. While the Charter Commission will take up a number of important structural questions, the charter revision process would not be happening at this time, except for the broad support for the Clean Elections charter amendment.

FEP filed its first suit against the City in September 2019. After extensive litigation, the Law Court ruled in June 2021 that the City had failed to provide an explanation for its position and remanded the case to the City for further proceedings. The Law Court noted that the City’s argument was lacking in factual support and that the City’s position was not obvious on the basis of available information.

On October 18, 2021 the City Council once again considered the proposed charter amendment, and again followed the instructions of Corporation Counsel to keep the measure off the ballot.

On November 17, 2021, FEP and 15 Portland voters filed suit against the City of Portland over the City’s continued refusal to place a ballot question before voters.



On July 14th, 2020 Portlanders voted in favor to change the Charter Commission. Here's why this is significant. 

The overwhelming success of Question A is due to the efforts of Black Lives Matter Portland, Southern Maine Workers Center, Southern Maine DSA, ACLU Maine, and many other volunteers. 

What started as a quest for public funding to make our elections more accessible has grown into a larger movement. We have people backing government change more than ever. 



In the summer of 2019, we collected signatures for a petition to create funding for clean elections in Portland. Rather than putting the issue to voters directly, the city choose to put a charter commission on the ballot.