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Maine opens a competition to design a new state flag based on an old classic: Hartford Courant

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — Mainers will decide in November whether to adopt a new flag, but the state must first decide on a design.

Anyone can submit a design proposal, as long as it is based on the original state flag, featuring a simple pine tree and a blue star against an off-white background. Secretary of State Shenna Bellows announced the flag contest on Friday. The deadline is July 19.

A modern version of that flag, used from 1901 to 1909, took the state by storm during Maine’s 2020 bicentennial, and has appeared on hats, sweatshirts and soon on license plates. This popularity played a role in lawmakers’ passage of a bill last year to let Mainers vote on replacing the current flag, which features the state’s official seal, a lumberjack, a sailor and the state motto, Dirigo, can be seen. That’s Latin for ‘I lead’, a reference to the North Star.

The design process proceeded without controversy until news reports of a similar-looking flag flying at Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito’s vacation home. The flag with a pine tree and the words “AN APPEAL TO HEAVEN” dates back to the Revolutionary War, but has recently been linked to the Christian nationalist movement and the false claim that the 2020 presidential election was stolen.

Bellows ignored a reporter’s question about the similarities between the flags at a news conference. “This is a debate that is blissfully free of partisan politics, and one that every Maine voter can have a say in at the ballot box this fall,” she said in a statement.

The law requires Bellows to present the final draft. “This task assigned to me by the Legislature is not a task I can perform alone. “That is why today I invite every Mainer to consider submitting a bill for consideration,” she said.