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Availability of local ballot measure information at the state level

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This page provides information about whether local ballot measure elections data is available on a state-wide level in each state and how extensive that information is.

Summary:

There were 19 states found in which state agencies such as the Secretary of State or Board of Elections maintained a database of election results and data that included local measures.

Four states were found in which the state education departments posted information exclusively about local school bond or tax measures.

Eight states featured privately organized and maintained archives for a specific type of local ballot measure, mostly concerning school debt or revenue measures.

Most archives are arranged according to election year, but some are searchable according to various criteria such as location of election or type of ballot measure. Ideally, the information that is available in a database for local ballot measures includes:

  • The date of the election.
  • Official election results.
  • The official ballot name or title of the local ballot measure.
  • The name of the local entity in which the ballot measure is being decided.
  • The full text of the ballot question.

Many archives, however, only include some of this information. Details about what information each database contains are available in the state-by-state analysis below.

[edit]

The information available on state agency websites varies greatly. For example, the Ohio Secretary of State website displayed the ballot question text and election result details for local measures voted on between 2003 and 2012, but the North Dakota Secretary of State website only posted election results to local measures that were turned in by cities in the years of 2010 and 2012 alone.

Below is a table that lists the states with publicly operated databases that included local measures.

States with state agency that provides local ballot measure data
States: Agency Has Ballot Text Has Election
Result Details
Link
Alabama Secretary of State Defeatedd Approveda Archive
Alaska Division of Elections Defeatedd Approveda Archive
Connecticut Secretary of State Approveda Approveda Archive
Florida Department of State Defeatedd Approveda Archive
Georgia Secretary of State Defeatedd Approveda Archive
Hawaii Office of elections Defeatedd Approveda Archive
Idaho Secretary of State Defeatedd Approveda Archive
Illinois Board of Elections Approveda Defeatedd Archive
Indiana Secretary of State Approveda Approveda Archive
Louisiana Secretary of State Defeatedd Approveda Archive
Massachusetts Department of Elections Approveda Approveda Archive
Minnesota Secretary of State Defeatedd Approveda Archive
Nevada Secretary of State Approveda Approveda Archive
North Carolina Board of Elections Defeatedd Approveda Archive
North Dakota Secretary of State Defeatedd Approveda Archive
Ohio Secretary of State Approveda Approveda Archive
Rhode Island Board of Elections Defeatedd Approveda Archive
South Carolina Election Commission Defeatedd Approveda Archive
Virginia Secretary of State Defeatedd Approveda Archive

Typically databases of local school measure information contain the amount, purpose and voting results for school bond measures and the amount, purpose, duration and voting results of school tax measures. Some databases were searchable with various criteria such as school district and election year, while others simply contained lists of data.

Below is a table with a list of states with state agencies that provide information exclusively about local school financing measures:

States with state agency that provides data on local school measures only
States: Agency Bond measures Tax measures Link
Illinois Board of Education Approveda Approveda Archive
Iowa Department of Education Defeatedd Approveda Archive
Washington Superintendent of
Public Instruction
Approveda Approveda Archive
Wisconsin Dept. of Public Instruction Approveda Approveda Archive

All of the private databases for local measures that were found contained information about bond or tax measures only. Most of the databases only contained measures authorizing school debt or taxes. Below is a table listing the states with private databases and giving some information about the database and what kind of measures it includes.

States with a private agency that provides local ballot measure data
States: Agency Type of ballot measure Has Election
Result Details
Link
California League of California Cities Local revenue measures Approveda Archive
Minnesota School boards association School bond and tax measures Approveda Archive
New Jersey Department of State School bond and tax measures Defeatedd Archive
New Mexico Bonds association School bond measures Defeatedd Archive
North Carolina Construction Clearing House School bond measures Defeatedd Archive
Oregon School boards association School bond and tax measures Approveda Archive
South Carolina School boards association School bond measures Approveda Archive
Texas Secretary of State All bond measures Defeatedd Archive

Alabama

See also: Local ballot measures, Alabama

The Alabama Secretary of State keeps an archive of county-level election results with documents available to download for each primary and general election for the years 1992-2004.

Alaska

See also: Local ballot measures, Alaska

The Alaska Division of Elections website provides a central election results database that is searchable by election. This database does not have all local measures but only includes those that were conducted by the state in situations such as unincorporated villages. There is also a archive of sample ballots for these and other state elections.

Arizona

See also: Local ballot measures, Arizona

In Arizona, a central database for local elections or ballot measures could not be found. Instead, a researcher would need to consult the election office of each of the 15 counties in the state. Counties in this state vary by whether they provide this information online or not, and they also vary by how many years of election data they provide online

Arkansas

See also: Local ballot measures, Arkansas

In Arkansas, there is no one central repository of information about local elections or ballot measures. Instead, a researcher would need to consult the election office of each of the 75 counties in the state. Counties in Arkansas vary by whether they provide this information online or not, and they also vary by how many years of election data they provide online.

California

See also: Local ballot measures, California

The California Secretary of State does not list local election results. Each of the 58 counties has a database of local ballot measure election results. The quality and quantity of the information available on the county-sponsored election databases varies widely from county-to-county.

"California City Finance," a project of the League of California Cities, collects information about school bond and tax votes, and about other local revenue measures:

Colorado

See also: Local ballot measures, Colorado

Colorado does not have a central repository of information about local ballot measure results. Instead, a researcher would need to consult the election office of each of the 64 counties in the state. Counties in this state vary by whether they provide this information online or not, and they also vary by how many years of election data they provide online.

Connecticut

See also: Local ballot measures, Connecticut

The Connecticut Secretary of State lists election information for local ballot measures. This database has an archive of election results from 2003 to 2012 as well as listing the text of the ballot questions.

Delaware

See also: Local ballot measures, Delaware

In Delaware, no central election database for local elections could be found. A researcher would need to consult individual county websites or offices for each of the three counties in Delaware.

Florida

See also: Local ballot measures, Florida

The Florida Department of State maintains a central election database which can be searched by county and includes some local ballot measure information. This Database includes information from 1978 through 2012.

The Florida Association of Counties also has a webpage for county ballot issues that shows the ballot question and whether it passed or failed, but it only seems to cover one year. Currently it has information for 2012.

Georgia

See also: Local ballot measures, Georgia

In Georgia, there is a central election database for 1% sales tax elections held from 1998 through 2012. This database briefly lists the county in which the tax is proposed, the purpose of the tax, its duration and the number of votes for and against it.

Hawaii

See also: Local ballot measures, Hawaii

In Hawaii, the Office of Elections has a database covering general and primary elections in even years only, which includes local measure information. This database currently covers general and primary elections in even years only from 1992 through 2012.

Idaho

See also: Local ballot measures, Idaho

The Idaho Secretary of State website has is a central election database for local elections organized by county. This database currently covers general and primary elections in even number years from 1996 through 2012.

Illinois

See also: Local ballot measures, Illinois

The Illinois Board of Elections has a searchable database of referendum information including where the election was held, whether it passed or failed, a summary of the issue and, in some cases, the question on the ballot. This database has information for elections beginning in 1995 and going through 2012.

The Illinois State Board of Education also lists all school bond and tax election data from 1972 to 2012. There are more comprehensive lists from 2004 to 2012 for elections involving the Illinois Property Tax Cap Act.

Indiana

See also: Local ballot measures, Indiana

In Indiana, the [Indiana Secretary of State|Secretary of State] maintains a central election database with the ballot questions and number of votes for and against in the years of 2001 through 2012.

Iowa

See also: Local ballot measures, Iowa

In Iowa, there is no one central repository of information about local ballot measures or elections, except for a list of the Physical Plant and Equipment Levy (PPEL) elections. For other local elections, a researcher would need to consult the election office of each of the 64 counties in the state. Counties in this state vary by whether they provide this information online or not, and they also vary by how many years of election data they provide online.

Kansas

See also: Local ballot measures, Kansas

In Kansas, there is no state agency that provides a database for local elections. For local ballot information, a researcher would have to contact the website or office of each 105 counties in the state.

Kentucky

See also: Local ballot measures, Kentucky

In Kentucky, there is no one central repository of information about local ballot measures or elections. Instead, a researcher would need to consult the election office of each of the 120 counties in the state. Counties in this state vary by whether they provide this information online or not, and they also vary by how many years of election data they provide online.

Louisiana

See also: Local ballot measures, Louisiana

In Louisiana, there is a central election database provided by the Secretary of State which has election results for all local measures provided to the state by the various Parishes for the years of 1982 through 2013.

There is also an map based search tool for finding local ballot measures and local election information.

Maine

See also: Local ballot measures, Maine

In Maine there is no one central repository of information about local ballot measures. Instead, a researcher would need to consult the election office of each of the 16 counties in the state. Counties in this state vary by whether they provide this information online or not, and they also vary by how many years of election data they provide online.

Maryland

See also: Local ballot measures, Maryland

In Maryland there is no one central repository of information about local elections. Instead, a researcher would need to consult the election office of each of the 25 counties in the state. Counties in this state vary by whether they provide this information online or not, and they also vary by how many years of election data they provide online.

Massachusetts

See also: Local ballot measures, Massachusetts

In Massachusetts there is a database for state election results that includes any local measures that were put on the state ballots or turned in by municipalities for display in the state database. For the local measures this database includes, it shows the full ballot text and votes for and against for each measure. Information is available for 1972-2006 and the database is currently being updated with more recent results and questions.

Michigan

See also: Local ballot measures, Michigan

There is no central repository for local ballot measure information generally. But the Michigan Department of Treasury does provide searchable online list generator of every school bond vote taken in the state up to 2013. The lists go back to 1996, showing the amount, purpose and voting results for each bond measure, and they allow readers to search by county, school district and election date.

Minnesota

See also: Local ballot measures, Minnesota

The Minnesota Secretary of State website has a database showing election information for 1998 to the present. This information includes local elections and shows the ballot question text and the votes for and against local ballot measures.

The Minnesota School Boards Association also has information on all school bond and tax elections in the State of Minnesota from 2000 to present.

Mississippi

See also: Local ballot measures, Mississippi

In Mississippi there is no one central repository of information about local ballot measures. Instead, a researcher would need to consult the election office of each of the 82 counties in the state. Counties in this state vary by whether they provide this information online or not, and they also vary by how many years of election data they provide online.

Missouri

See also: Local ballot measures, Missouri

In Missouri, there is no one central database for local ballot measures generally. The Missouri State Auditor's Office has a searchable bond database exclusively for county bonds that have been issued.

This database includes no information about votes on bond measures that lost. It is not clear from the database as it stands whether a particular general obligation bond issued by a school district was approved by the district's school board or by the district's voters.

Montana

See also: Local ballot measures, Montana

In Montana, there is no one central repository of information about local ballot measures. Instead, a researcher would need to consult the election office of each of the 56 counties in the state. Counties in this state vary by whether they provide this information online or not, and they also vary by how many years of election data they provide online.

Nebraska

See also: Local ballot measures, Nebraska

In Nebraska, there is no one central repository of information about local ballot measure elections. Instead, a researcher would need to consult the election office of each of the state's 93 counties. Counties in this state vary by whether they provide this information online or not, and they also vary by how many years of election data they provide online.

Nevada

See also: Local ballot measures, Nevada

The Nevada Secretary of State has a central election results portal for elections in 1999-2012. In order to reach the results, a researcher must go to the year of the election, select the county where the election was held and then scroll down to the local ballot questions. For more recent elections both the election results and the ballot questions are shown, while for elections farther in the past only the election results are shown.

New Hampshire

See also: Local ballot measures, New Hampshire

In New Hampshire, there is no one central repository of information about local ballot measures. Instead, a researcher would need to consult the election office of each of the 56 counties in the state. Counties in this state vary by whether they provide this information online or not, and they also vary by how many years of election data they provide online.

New Jersey

See also: Local ballot measures, New Jersey

In New Jersey, no government agency provides a central repository of local ballot measures. However, the New Jersey Association of School Boards releases results for every election dating back to 2000. All the results are sorted in a press release format.

New Mexico

See also: Local ballot measures, New Mexico

In New Mexico, there is no one central repository of local ballot measure information. The New Mexico Bonds authority website, however, lists election results for school bond elections from 2000 to 2011. The bond election results are posted all on one page showing the school district, amount and purpose of each bond. This archive shows which bond measures were approved and defeated, but not by how many votes.

New York

See also: Local ballot measures, New York

In New York no state-wide database for local ballot measures generally was found. The New York State Education Department, however, maintains a database exclusively for school district tax levy votes going back to 2000. It also has a historical overview chart going back to 1969.

North Carolina

See also: Local ballot measures, North Carolina

The North Carolina Board of Elections has a municipal election results archive but it currently only has results for measures in 2009 and 2011. This database may be expanded in the future.

In addition, the North Carolina Department of Education's School Construction Clearinghouse lists results of all school construction elections since 1995.

North Dakota

See also: School bond and tax elections in North Dakota

In 2010, North Dakota Secretary of State began including city and county ballot measures that appeared on the state-wide ballot or that were turned in by municipalities in its election results archive. There are no plans to add more historical information to this archive but it will be kept up to date in the future.

Ohio

See also: Local ballot measures, Ohio

In Ohio, the Secretary of State has an archive of election results that includes local measures from 2003 to the present. This database shows the voting results and the text of the ballot question in most cases.

In addition, The Ohio Department of Education has a website listing all bond election results from 2004 to present. In order to get results, click on the web link associated with the election year, In most cases, the results are organized by county, along with historical summaries and bond elections that were decided by a small percentage margin.

Oklahoma

See also: Local ballot measures, Oklahoma

In Oklahoma, there is no one central repository of information about local ballot measure elections. Instead, a researcher would need to consult the election office of each of the 77 counties. Counties in Oklahoma vary by whether they provide this information online or not, and they also vary by how many years of election data they provide online.

Oregon

See also: Local ballot measures, Oregon

Oregon does not feature a central database for local ballot measure results in general, but the Oregon School Boards Association has a comprehensive database listing all school bond election results. This database gives information on the amount, duration, purpose and votes for and against for all school bond and tax elections from 1997 to 2012.

Pennsylvania

See also: Local ballot measures, Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania, there is no one central repository of information about local ballot measure elections. Instead, a researcher would need to consult the election office of each of the 67 counties. Counties in this state vary by whether they provide this information online or not, and they also vary by how many years of election data they provide online.

Rhode Island

See also: Local ballot measures, Rhode Island

In Rhode Island, the Secretary of State provides an archive of election results for 1988-2012 for even years only, which includes local ballot measure information for most local measures, especially city measures.

South Carolina

See also: Local ballot measures, South Carolina

The South Carolina Election Commission maintains election results information on its website for local election races by county for 2008, 2010 and 2012.

In addition, the South Carolina School Boards Association lists all bond referendums from 1978 to the present.

South Dakota

See also: Local ballot measures, South Dakota

The South Dakota Secretary of State lists local election data for 2008, 2010 and 2012 included in its election results and data archive.

Tennessee

See also: Local ballot measures, Tennessee

In Tennessee, there is no one central repository of information about local ballot measure elections. Instead, a researcher would need to consult the election office of each of the counties in Tennessee. Counties in this state vary by whether they provide this information online or not, and they also vary by how many years of election data they provide online.

Texas

See also: Local ballot measures, Texas

There is no central database for local ballot measure elections in General for the State of Texas. A researcher would have to search each county individually for records of local ballot measures. For school measure information, however, the Texas Bond Review Board has a searchable database for school bond elections in the State of Texas. A researcher can find election results for bond issues by county, school district, a range of dates, or in a certain dollar amount.

Utah

See also: Local ballot measures, Utah

In Utah, there is no one central repository of information about local ballot measure elections. Instead, a researcher would need to consult the election office of each of the 29 counties. Counties in this Utah vary by whether they provide this information online or not, and they also vary by how many years of election data they provide online.

Vermont

See also: Local ballot measures, Vermont

Vermont Municipal Elections Division is currently redeveloping its election database so that municipalities can use it for storing and posting election information. This redevelopment is in very early planning stages. Estimated time frame for an operational system used by most municipalities is four years.

Virginia

See also: Local ballot measures, Virginia

The Virginia State Board of Elections has a website that lists all local referendum data from 1995 to 2012, but not all referenda are posted. In most cases, a researcher must contact the local elections authority in Virginia's 95 counties and 39 independent city-counties.

Washington

See also: Local ballot measures, Washington

There is no central database for local ballot measures in general in Washington. However, the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction provides a database of election results for all school bond and tax elections. Elections results from 2008 to 2013 are posted.

West Virginia

See also: Local ballot measures, West Virginia

In West Virginia, there is no one central repository of information about local ballot measure elections. Instead, a researcher would need to consult the election office of each of the 55 counties. Counties in West Virginia vary by whether they provide this information online or not, and they also vary by how many years of election data they provide online.

Wisconsin

See also: Local ballot measures, Wisconsin

Although Wisconsin does not feature one central database for local ballot measure information in general, the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction has a searchable bond database. The database allows citizens to customize referendum reports by referendum type, date range and specific school district. The database lists all elections from 1990 to present with amount, purpose and voting results.

Wyoming

See also: Local ballot measures, Wyoming

In Wyoming, no central database with local ballot measure information could be found. In order to find such information, a researcher would have to search on the county or municipal level for what information was made available by local entities.

The data for this report was found either by searching through relevant government and private websites or by calling representatives of the relevant departments in each state.

Most of the data was found through searching websites manually. 75% of all state agency databases were easy to find as they were located two or fewer links away from the department's home page and were reasonably labeled.

Contacting the election offices of each state directly proved less effective. In 80% of the states that had public databases and were contacted directly, no representatives could be found who knew of the existence or location of their public database for local election information.

Below is a chart showing the ease with which local ballot measure information was found in each state. The state websites were evaluated and given one of three grades easy, moderate or difficult, based on how many links were between the home page and the archive and how well each link was labeled. A grade of "Easy" signifies that the archive/database was two or fewer clicks from the home page and that each link was clearly labeled. A grade of "Moderate" signifies that the archive/database was more than two but fewer than five clicks from the home page and the links were clearly labeled. A grade of "Difficult" signifies that the archive/database was very hard to find due to a multitude of links labeled in an unclear way. In some cases no clear path from the home page to the archive could be found.

States with state agency that provides local ballot measure data
States: Agency Difficulty grade Link to archive
Alabama Secretary of State Moderate Archive
Alaska Division of Elections Easy Archive
Connecticut Secretary of State Easy Archive
Florida Department of State Easy Archive
Georgia Secretary of State Easy Archive
Hawaii Office of elections Easy Archive
Idaho Secretary of State Easy Archive
Illinois Board of Elections Easy Archive
Indiana Secretary of State Moderate Archive
Iowa Department of education Difficult Archive
Louisiana Secretary of State Easy Archive
Massachusetts Department of Elections Easy Archive
Minnesota Secretary of State Moderate Archive
Nevada Secretary of State Easy Archive
North Carolina Board of Elections Easy Archive
North Dakota Secretary of State Easy Archive
Ohio Secretary of State Easy Archive
Rhode Island Board of Elections Easy Archive
South Carolina Election Commission Easy Archive
Virginia Secretary of State Easy Archive
Washington Superintendent of
Public Instruction
Easy Archive
Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction Difficult Archive

See also