Ballotpedia:Analysis of the 2014 ballot measures
- 1 Hot topics
- 2 Statistical summary
- 3 Measures through the years
- 4 2014 initiative activity
- 5 Issues on the ballot
- 6 Citizen initiative changes
- 7 Legislative referral changes
- 8 Signature collection costs
- 9 2014 Campaign contributions
- 10 Bond and tax issues on the ballot
- 11 References
Voters weighed in on some of the nation's most contentious topics during the November 4, 2014, elections. Decisions made at the ballot box established important precedents and set the tone for future elections, based on which measures were 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 harnessed this momentum to push their agenda in other states during the 2014 election cycle. Four measures addressing marijuana were certified for statewide ballots this year.
- Alaska Ballot Measure 2: Alaskans decided to follow in the footsteps of Washington and Colorado by legalizing the recreational use of marijuana in their state. As a result of its approval, Ballot Measure 2 allows people age 21 and older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and up to six plants. It also makes the manufacture, sale and possession of marijuana paraphernalia legal.
- Florida Amendment 2: In Florida, voters decided not to legalize medical marijuana. Had Amendment 2 been approved, the measure would have specifically guaranteed 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 defined 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 enjoyed strong support among voters early in the campaign, with polls showing 88 percent supporting its passage as of July 2014. However, polling dropped of as election day grew closer, with polls conduced in mid- to late-October showing support somewhere between 50 and 60 percent. Ultimately, the measure fell three points short of achieving the 60 percent supermajority required for its passage.
- Oregon Measure 91: Upon the approval of Measure 91, Oregon joined neighboring Washington in legalizing recreational marijuana. The initiative allows 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 tasks the Oregon Liquor Control Commission with regulating sales of the drug. The initiative was 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. Therefore, supporters moved forward with the initiative effort and successfully got the measure before voters, who ultimately approved it. Supporters of the measure raised over $7 million, while opponents were only able to raise $168,532.
- Washington Advisory Vote No. 8: Voters in Washington weighed in on a non-binding advisory question addressing marijuana and taxes. The measure asked 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 was 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 took 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 featured minimum wage increase questions in November. All five were approved.
- 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, prior to 2014, 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 believed a wage raise was long overdue and put the issue before voters. Since it was approved in November, the measure increased the state's minimum wage from $7.75 per hour to $8.75, beginning January 1, 2015. It will 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 could not raise their state's minimum wage via the ballot, they did weigh in on the topic and let legislators know that a majority approve of an increase. The Illinois Minimum Wage Increase Question is an advisory question and, therefore, is non-binding. However, the vote serves 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 then-governor Pat Quinn (D). The measure asked 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 were 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 concurence with that at the federal level. Voters changed this pattern in November when they voted on and approved Initiated Measure 18. The measure was designed to increase the minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.50 per hour beginning January 1, 2015, and guarantee an increase in the minimum wage each year to account for inflation. Additionally, the measure set tipped employees' wages at half that of the minimum wage, raising their hourly pay from $2.13 to $4.25. The measure was 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, where voters subsequently approved it. 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 sought 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 was no different. Two statewide measures addressing the mandatory labeling of GMOs were 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 decided GMO labeling should not be mandated in their states. Had one or both of these measures been approved, it would have marked the first time voters approved this issue statewide at the ballot box.
- Colorado Proposition 105: Had the measure been approved by voters in November, Proposition 105 would have required 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 have gone into effect by January 1, 2016. The measure was 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 was 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 wasn't much different in that it would have required "the labeling of raw and packaged foods produced entirely or partially by 'genetic engineering.'" The law would have gone into effect in January 2016 and would have applied to retailers, suppliers and manufacturers.
The charts below include all statewide election results from the November 4, 2014, elections, as well as previously held primary elections:
|2014 election stats|
|Total||Approved (%)||Defeated (%)|
|158||102 (64.6%)||56 (35.4%)|
Legislative and other referrals
Measures through the years
- See also: 2014 ballot measures
All statewide ballot measures for 2014 were 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 perpetuated 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 featured measures.
This year was particularly notable for the low number of initiated measures - initiated constitutional amendments and initiated state statutes. Though 616 initiatives were filed, only 35 went 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 marked 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 were the most prominent type of measure featured on state ballots this year, were 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 was 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|
2014 initiative activity
- See also: Chart of 2014 initiative activity
In total, there are 26 states with some form of direct democracy. This year, for all measures on the ballot, a total of 15 initiative and referendum states had measures up for a public vote. However, before those measures were placed on the ballot, they had to be filed and proposed to their state election officials before circulating for signatures.
This means that some initiative efforts can fail in various ways - unconstitutional ballot text, shortage of valid signatures, missed deadlines, etc. For those reasons, not all measures filed make the ballot.
In 2014, a grand total of 616 initiatives were filed with intent to circulate for signature gathering. Of those 616 initiatives, only 40 made it on the ballot. Those 40 included veto referendums, initiated constitutional amendments and initiated state statutes. In the findings below, we took a deeper look at the filed initiatives, those that were certified, and the breakdown of measures that were proposed in each state.
This analysis did not include legislative proposals or referrals to the ballot.
|# of initiatives proposed||# initiatives certified in 2014||% certified|
- Of the 616 measures that filed for circulation, only 40, or 6.5 percent, ended up on the ballot.
- Of the 26 states that allow the initiative and referendum process, 15 featured initiated measures on 2014 ballots.
- The average rate of certification per state in 2014 was 17 percent.
- Two states - North Dakota and South Dakota - had 100 percent of proposed initiated measures certified for the ballot.
Issues on the ballot
- See also: Chart of 2014 ballot measure issues
Following previous years' trends, taxes was the most prevalent issue on 2014 statewide ballots, with 23 of the 158 measures addressing the topic. Of the 42 states that had measures on the ballot in 2014, 14 featured tax-related measures. Three of the 23 total tax measures were advisory questions, meaning that, regardless of whether the measures were approved or defeated, they were purely symbolic and did not change any state laws.
In 2012, 33 measures addressed taxes in some form; meanwhile, in 2010, a whopping 40 measures dealing with taxes were placed on the ballot, again leading the tally. Although taxes was the most prominent issue featured on the past three even-year election cycle ballots, fewer tax measures were on the ballot this year when compared to years past. In 2010, 21.7 percent of the measures were tax-related; In 2012, tax-related measures made up 17.5 percent of measures. In 2014, however, only 14.5 percent of the measures addressed taxes. Time will tell if this decreasing trend will continue going forward.
Hot-button issues such as GMOs, marijuana and healthcare tend to steal the media spotlight; however, in 2014, Nevada's Question 3 and Alaska's Ballot Measure 1 received significant coverage in state-wide publications. The Alaska measure, which was narrowly defeated at the polls, sought to repeal Senate Bill 21, also known as the Oil and Gas Production Tax and the More Alaska Production Act (MAPA), which was passed by the Alaska State Legislature and granted tax breaks to oil companies. The Nevada measure, which was also defeated by voters, sought to institute a two percent margin tax on businesses operating in Nevada that make more than $1 million. Revenue from the tax would have been allocated to public schools.
More information on the breakdown of 2014 ballot measure topics can be found here.
The chart below highlights the most popular issues for 2014:
|Top Issues||# measures per issue|
Citizen initiative changes
- See also: Chart of 2014 ballot measure changes
Only 14 of the 26 states that allow the initiative and referendum process had 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 appeared on the ballot in 2014 than in 2012.
- A total of 10 fewer initiatives appeared 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 featured 118 legislative referrals, while 2012 featured 125 and 2010 had 134. This year's ballots featured 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 had only 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.
2014 Campaign contributions
A total of 158 ballot questions were certified for 42 statewide ballots in 2014; however, only 75 ballot measures had any type of campaign finance activity. A total of $458,551,590 was contributed to ballot measures in 2014, according to official reports filed as of December 2014.
- Highest statewide contributions: California - $201,082,868
- Lowest statewide contributions: New York - $376,838
- California Proposition 46 - $70,228,481
- California Proposition 45 - $63,228,328
- Colorado Amendment 68 - $35,578,228
- Oregon Measure 92 - $32,137,856
- California Proposition 48 - $22,529,777
- Missouri Amendment 5 - $13,958
- Missouri Amendment 9 - $11,899
- North Dakota Measure 8 - $2,150
- North Dakota Measure 3 - $1,600
- Missouri Amendment 8 - $993
NOTE: Campaign contribution reports in several states are still not finalized. During research, it was found that not all reports were filed as of December 8, 2014, in California, Maine, Montana and Nevada. The information for these states will be updated as it becomes available. Therefore, numbers are subject to change.
Bond and tax issues on the ballot
Below is a summary of the bond and tax issues that appeared on the 2014 statewide ballots:
|Bonds in 2014|
|Total bond measures:||19|
The following are statistics of bond issues that were on the ballot in 2014. Only ballot measures that specified the amount of bonds that would be issued in its ballot text were included in this study.
The following chart shows the total amount of potential authorized bonds that were on the ballot in 2014 and how much money was approved versus how much was defeated. All 19 bond measures were approved by voters.
Click here for a comparison of bond and tax measures through the years.
|Total amount on 2014 ballot||Approved total amount||Defeated total amount|
As has been the trend over the past several years, taxes and bond issues turned out to be the two most prevalent issues on 2014 ballots. A total of 19 bond measures appeared in California, Hawaii, Maine, New Mexico, New York, Ohio and Rhode Island. The measures addressing tax issues, of which there were 23, appeared in a total of 14 states: Alaska, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia.
|Tax proposals||Business||Cigarette||Income||Inheritance||Property||Real estate||Sales||Other|
- 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 (dead link)
- 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 (dead link)
- 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 (dead link)
- 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