Ballotpedia:Analysis of the 2014 ballot measures
Voters will be weighing in on some of the nation's most contentious topics during the November 4, 2014, elections. Decisions made at the ballot box will establish important precedents and set the tone for future elections, based on which measures are approved and defeated.
Marijuana-related measures have been prominent fixtures on statewide ballots for nearly two decades. The November 2012 elections saw the recreational use of marijuana legalized for the first time in two states - Colorado and Washington. Marijuana activists have harnessed this momentum to push their agenda in other states during the 2014 election cycle. Four measures addressing marijuana are certified for statewide ballots this year.
- Alaska Ballot Measure 2: Alaskans will decide whether to follow in the footsteps of Washington and Colorado by legalizing the recreational use of marijuana in their state. If approved in November, Ballot Measure 2 will allow people age 21 and older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and up to six plants. It will also make the manufacture, sale and possession of marijuana paraphernalia legal.
- Florida Amendment 2: In Florida, voters will decide whether to legalize medical marijuana. If Amendment 2 is approved, the measure would specifically guarantee that medical use of marijuana by a qualifying patient or personal caregiver is not subject to criminal or civil liability or sanctions under state law, that a licensed physician is not subject to criminal or civil liability or sanctions for issuing medical marijuana to a person diagnosed with a "debilitating medical condition" under state law, and that registered medical marijuana treatment centers are not subject to criminal or civil liability or sanctions under state law. The measure defines a "debilitating medical condition" as cancer, multiple sclerosis, glaucoma, hepatitis C, HIV, AIDS, ALS, Crohn's disease, Parkinson's disease "or other conditions for which a physician believes that the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the potential health risks for a patient." The measure has been enjoying strong support among voters, with the most recent poll showing 88 percent support its passage.
- Oregon Measure 91: If voters approve Measure 91 in November, Oregon will join neighboring Washington in legalizing recreational marijuana. The initiative would allow the recreational use of the drug by people ages 21 and older, permitting possession of up to eight ounces of "dried" marijuana and four plants. Additionally, the measure would task the Oregon Liquor Control Commission with regulating sales of the drug. The initiative is being sponsored by the group "New Approach Oregon." Anthony Johnson, the chief petitioner, hoped legislators would refer the measure to the ballot. However, the legislature failed to do so before the 2014 session ended on March 10, 2014. Supporters of the measure have raised over $1.5 million; meanwhile, no formal campaign against the measure has been formed.
- Washington Advisory Vote No. 8: Voters in Washington will weigh in on a non-binding advisory question addressing marijuana and taxes. The measure asks voters whether the Washington State Legislature should repeal or maintain the elimination of agricultural tax preferences for various aspects of the marijuana industry. This measure is the result of legislation passed in Senate Bill 6505.
The issue of raising the minimum wage has become a hotly contested topic at the local, state and federal levels. In the wake of Congress' failure to increase the federal minimum wage, states have taken it upon themselves to do what Washington could not, with some raising the minimum wage via the state legislators and others turning to the voters. Five state ballots will feature minimum wage increase questions in November.
- Alaska Ballot Measure 3: Alaska has had a unique relationship with minimum wage rates over the years. It was the first state to adopt a minimum wage higher than that at the federal level. Furthermore, it maintained the highest minimum wage rate for more than 30 years after achieving statehood in 1959. However, the last time the minimum wage rose was in 2009 when the rate was increased from $7.15 to $7.25 per hour, in accordance with the federal minimum wage rate. Supporters of Ballot Measure 3 think a wage raise is long overdue and have put the issue before voters. If approved in November, the measure would increase the state's minimum wage from $7.75 per hour to $8.75 beginning January 1, 2015. It would be increased again on January 1, 2016, to $9.75 per hour and, from there on, be adjusted based on inflation or remain $1 higher than the federal minimum wage, whichever amount is greater.
- Illinois Minimum Wage Increase Question: Though Illinois voters will not be raising their state's minimum wage via the ballot, they will be able to weigh in on the topic and let legislators know whether a majority approves of an increase. The Illinois Minimum Wage Increase Question is an advisory question and, therefore, is non-binding. However, the vote will serve as a sort of barometer for those in the state legislature. "This November, Illinois voters will have the opportunity to send a clear signal to lawmakers that we must have an economy that works for everyone," said Gov. Pat Quinn (D). The measure will ask voters whether they support increasing the hourly minimum wage to $10 by January 1, 2015. The state's minimum wage is currently $8.25 per hour.
- Nebraska Initiative 425: After gridlock prevented the passage of a minimum wage bill in the Nebraska Legislature, one lawmaker, Sen. Jeremy Nordquist (NP-7), decided to put the issue in the hands of voters. With the help of FieldWorks, a campaign consultant business specializing in ballot initiatives, Nordquist was able to successfully gather the 80,386 valid signatures required to refer the measure to the ballot. Voters will be asked whether the minimum wage should be increased first from $7.25 to $8.00 on January 1, 2015, and then from $8.00 to $9.00 on January 1, 2016. 
- South Dakota Initiated Measure 18: In South Dakota, the hourly minimum wage has traditionally risen in congruence with that at the federal level. Voters may change this pattern come November when they vote on Initiated Measure 18. The measure would increase the minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.50 per hour beginning January 1, 2015, and it would guarantee an increase in the minimum wage each year to account for inflation. Additionally, the measure would set tipped employees' wages at half that of the minimum wage, raising their hourly pay from $2.13 to $4.25. The measure is sponsored by the South Dakota Democratic Party, as well as some labor unions.
- Arkansas Minimum Wage Initiative: Supporters of increasing the minimum wage in Arkansas successfully landed their measure on the ballot for November. Though there was controversy surrounding the deadline by which the first round of signatures had to be submitted to the secretary of state for verification, supporters were ultimately allowed to continue collecting and submitting signatures until the final deadline of August 18, 2014. The supporting group, Give Arkansas a Raise Now, successfully submitted an additional 69,070 signatures by the final deadline, 15,107 of which had to be deemed valid in order to land the measure on the ballot. The initiative seeks to increase the state’s minimum wage from $6.25 to $7.50 per hour on January 1, 2015, to $8 on January 1, 2016, and to $8.50 per hour on January 1, 2017.
The issue of whether mandatory labeling should be required for foodstuffs containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) has been creating quite the buzz on ballots across the country during the past few election cycles, and 2014 is no different. Two statewide measures addressing the mandatory labeling of GMOs have been proposed in as many years. Both were defeated at the polls by a margin of approximately three percent, but not before millions of dollars were spent on support and opposition campaigns. In 2012, Californians turned down Proposition 37 after $54.3 million was funneled into the measure. Washington voters defeated Initiative 522, which became the most expensive ballot measure in the state's history after a more than $30 million was spent by both sides. For both measures, the opposition campaigns far outspent the supporting ones, as large companies like Monsanto, DuPont Pioneer and Pepsi Co spent millions opposing the measures. GMOs have also been prominent fixtures on local ballots, in some cases attracting significant sums of money given the size and scope of the elections. This year, voters in Colorado and Oregon will decide whether GMO labeling should be mandated in their states. If one or both of these measures are approved, it will mark the first time voters have approved this issue statewide at the ballot box.
- Colorado Proposition 105: If approved by voters in November, Proposition 105 would require any "prepackaged, processed food or raw agricultural commodity that has been produced using genetic modification" to include the label: "Produced with genetic engineering." The law would be put into effect by January 1, 2016. The measure is sponsored by the group Colorado Right to Know. Supporters reported submitting over 167,995 signatures on August 4, 2014, significantly more than the 86,105 required to put the initiative before voters.
- Oregon Measure 92: Measure 92 is the second GMO labeling measure to go before Oregon voters in the past twelve years. In 2002, voters rejected Measure 27 by a wide margin of 71 to 30 percent. The 2002 measure sought to require the labeling of foods derived or processed using genetically-engineered materials with a label prepared by the Oregon Department of Agriculture. The current measure isn't much different in that it would require "the labeling of raw and packaged foods produced entirely or partially by 'genetic engineering.'" The law would go into effect in January 2016 and would apply to retailers, suppliers and manufacturers.
Measures through the years
- See also: 2014 ballot measures
All statewide ballot measures for 2014 are now finalized, with the official number - clocking in at 158 - setting new record lows, particularly for an even-year election. Even-numbered election years traditionally have far more measures than their odd-numbered counterparts. Two years ago, in 2012, voters saw 188 statewide ballot questions. That number was lower than the 194 average for even-numbered years since 2000. With all statewide ballot measures finalized for the year, it's apparent 2014 is perpetuating this downward trend since 2006's peak of 226 measures. The last time the number of statewide ballot measures dipped below 160 was in 1988. For 2014, the number of questions on statewide ballots fell below the averages that have been maintained since the early-to-mid 1990s in 22 of the 42 states that feature measures.
This year is particularly notable for the low number of initiated measures - initiated constitutional amendments and initiated state statutes. Though 616 initiatives were filed, only 35 will go before voters. The last time this number dipped below 36 was in 1974; the average number of initiated measures on the ballot since 1974 is 51. This year's low number of initiatives may be due to the dozens of regulations on the initiative process which have been enacted in recent years, making it tougher for supporters to qualify initiatives for the ballot. Statewide ballots in 2012 featured 50 initiatives, significantly more than the number of those certified in 2014. 2010 ballots boasted 46, slightly fewer than 2012 but still 11 more than this year.
In California, a state notorious for its robust ballots, 2014 marks the lowest number of ballot propositions ever to appear on a general election ballot since the initiative and referendum process was enacted in the state in 1911. Previously, 2002 and 1916 were tied for the lowest number of measures on the ballot, with just seven measures going before voters in each of these years. 2014 nearly matched this; however, the California Supreme Court threw Proposition 49 off the 2014 ballot, thereby bumping the total number of measures down to six and setting a new record low.
Even legislatively-referred constitutional amendments, which are the most prominent type of measure featured on state ballots this year, are light when compared to previous years. Statewide ballots in 2012 featured a total of 99 legislatively-referred constitutional amendments and 2010 had 106. 2014's total is a mere 91.
The chart below on the left highlights the number of measures that appeared on the ballot from 2000 through 2014. This includes all citizen initiatives (initiated state statutes, initiated constitutional amendments and veto referendums), legislative referrals (legislatively-referred constitutional amendments and legislatively-referred state statutes), advisory questions and other measures. The chart below on the right shows how many of each type of measure has been featured on statewide ballots during the past four even-year election cycles.
|Year||Initiatives||Legislative referrals||Other measures||TOTAL|
|Type of ballot measure||2014||2012||2010||2008|
|Legislatively-referred constitutional amendments||91||99||106||77|
|Legislatively-referred state statutes||20||20||23||15|
|Automatic ballot referrals||1||3||4||3|
|Commission-referred ballot measures||1||0||0||5|
Citizen initiative changes
- See also: Chart of 2014 ballot measure changes
Only 14 of the 26 states that allow the initiative and referendum process have initiatives and/or veto referendums on the ballot in 2014. This year was an unusually low year in terms of number of initiatives on the ballot - the lowest number in even years since 2000.
- A total of 23 fewer initiatives will appear on the ballot in 2014 than in 2012.
- A total of 10 fewer initiatives will appear on the ballot in 2014 than in 2010.
- For purposes of this chart, initiatives and veto referendums were both counted together.
- This chart does not include advisory questions.
|# of initiatives in 2010||# of initiatives in 2012||# of initiatives in 2014||Change from 2012|
Legislative referral changes
- See also: Chart of 2014 ballot measure changes
In total, 2014 statewide ballots feature 118 legislative referrals, while 2012 featured 125 and 2010 had 134. This year's ballots feature seven fewer legislative referrals than 2012 ballots. Florida (-10) and Alabama (-6) had the most significant changes in the number of legislative referrals on the ballot when comparing 2014 numbers to those of 2012.
- Four states did not have legislative referrals on the ballot in 2014, but did in 2010 and 2012. The states are: Alaska, Colorado, Nebraska and Washington.
- In 2014, Louisiana had the highest number of referrals, a total of 14. Missouri and New Mexico were tied for the second highest number, with each state featuring a total of eight.
- The following statistics include legislatively-referred constitutional amendments, legislatively-referred state statutes, bond issues, automatic ballot referrals, commission-referred ballot measures and advisory questions.
|# of referrals in 2010||# of referrals in 2012||# of referrals in 2014||Change from 2012|
Signature collection costs
When citizens want to change the law through the initiative and referendum process, they must start by collecting petition signatures. By garnering enough signatures, the measure may be placed on the ballot for a vote of the people. The number of signatures required in order to land a statewide measure on the ballot ranges from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands, depending on the state. Petition circulation timelines also vary by state, for those that have them, but can range from 60 days to four years. States also have petition drive deadlines to qualify for elections the same year, sometimes leaving supporters of a particular measure little time to collect a large number of signatures.
Each year, Ballotpedia compiles a report in order to determine how much it cost to collect signatures for the current election cycle. Signatures had to be collected to qualify each of the 35 initiatives and five veto referendums on 2014 statewide ballots. Below are some highlights from the 2014 Cost per Required Signature Report, which is based on how much money was spent by the support campaigns to gather enough signatures to land each measure on the ballot. The "Cost Per Required Signature" metric was used to determine the ultimate costs.
- Approximately $16,899,427 was identified as having been spent specifically on petition signature gathering.
- An average of $3 was spent per required signature for all initiatives based on available data.
- The state with the highest CPRS in 2014 was Missouri, with an average cost of $6.44 per required signature. Missouri only has one initiative on the ballot.
- The state with the lowest CPRS in 2014 was Massachusetts, with an average cost of $1.05 per required signature.
- Of the top-ten highest initiative CPRSes, Oregon had four, California had four, Missouri had one and Nebraska had one.
- Oregon Measure 92, also known as the Mandatory Labeling of GMOs Initiative, had the highest CPRS in 2014, costing $8.36 per signature.
- Washington Initiative 1351, also known as the Class Size Reduction Measure, had the lowest CPRS in 2014, costing just $0.24. This is still more expensive than the record-low CPRS for Massachusetts's Question 2 in 2010, which was a mere $0.08.
- Alaska Dispatch, "Marijuana Policy Project plans Alaska ballot measure to decriminalize pot in 2014," accessed January 16, 2013
- StarTribune, "Organizers turn in signatures for Alaska marijuana legalization initiative," January 8, 2014
- Florida Department of State, "Use of Marijuana for Certain Medical Conditions," accessed January 14, 2014
- OregonLive.com, "With national backing, marijuana advocates file legalization measure," October 25, 2013
- The Oregonian, "At marijuana legalization hearing, question is how much regulation should go before Oregon voters," November 22, 2013
- Washington Secretary of State, "Word from AG: Two Advisory Votes on 2014 ballot," June 27, 2014
- Think Progress, "Here Are The States That Raised Their Minimum Wages Without Congress," July 9, 2014
- Homer News, "Minimum wage hike plan gets go-ahead," June 26, 2013
- AviationPros.com, "Labor Group Submits Signatures Backing Statewide Vote To Raise Minimum Wage," January 18, 2014
- Alaskans for a Fair Minimum Wage, "Minimum Wage FAQ," accessed August 19, 2014
- Chicago Sun-Times, "Quinn signs measure to put minimum-wage increase on fall ballot," June 22, 2014
- Quincy Journal, "Minimum wage referendum to appear on November ballot," May 29, 2014
- Omaha World‑Herald, "Effort to raise Nebraska minimum wage moving fast," June 9, 2014
- Nebraska Secretary of State, "Initiative Petition," accessed July 2, 2014
- The Republic, "Nebraska officials say 80,386 signatures needed to put minimum wage increase on ballot," July 7, 2014
- Minimum-wage.org, "South Dakota Minimum Wage 2012, 2013," accessed July 23, 2013
- The Kansas City Star, "SD Demos plan ballot measure to boost minimum wage," July 17, 2013
- Memphis Business Journal, “Attorney General clears way for Arkansas minimum wage ballot initiative," January 6, 2014
- Arkansas Matters.com, "Arkansas Minimum Wage Act Turns in Additional Signatures," August 18, 2014
- High Plains Public Radio, "Push for GMO labeling comes to Colorado," December 8, 2013
- Facebook, "Right To Know Colorado - GM0," August 4, 2014
- Oregon Secretary of State, "Amended Ballot Title," accessed June 5, 2014
- KQED News, "California’s November Ballot Could Be Shortest Ever," June 13, 2014