Ballotpedia analyzes 2010 ballot measure petition signature costs

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August 31, 2011

By Al Ortiz

Thousands of signatures are collected each year; some by volunteers and others by petition drive companies. In comparison to 2011, 2010 was abundant with initiatives. While millions of dollars (an estimated $379 million) were spent in 2010's ballot measure campaign efforts, first initiative supporters spent an estimated $36 million to qualify the initiative for the statewide ballot by circulating initiative petitions.

In a post-election analysis information obtained from official state election and campaign finance websites compared-and-contrasted signature-collection costs based on the cost per required signature (CPRS).

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When ballot initiative sponsors collect and submit signatures, they aim to collect many more than the required minimum number of signatures. This is done in order to provide a sufficient cushion for those signatures that inevitably are disqualified. In most states, anywhere from 25-35% of submitted signatures are disqualified.

Some initiative sponsors collect a much larger cushion of extra signatures. If it were possible to know exactly how many signatures each initiative sponsor submitted in each state, it would be possible to calculate a "cost-per-actual-signature" figure for every 2010 initiative in every state, which would allow an even comparison.

In some states, the figure of exactly how many signatures were submitted to election officials is made publicly available but in other states, that figure is not publicly available. This is especially true in states, such as California, where signatures are submitted to each of the state's 58 counties, rather than to one central election office.

The information and analysis by Ballotpedia breaks down and analyzes signature-collection costs based on a figure that is publicly available, which is the legal minimum requirement of signatures in each state. The analysis features each initiative by state, each initiative's political topic, the signature collection company hired, the total cost to hire that company, the required amount of signatures needed for ballot access and the final CPRS.

More than 600 initiatives were proposed in 2010, however, only 50 were voted on in November 2010. Of the 50 initiatives that qualified for the 2010 ballot:

  • A total of $35,726,200.94 was spent on collecting petition signatures
  • 35 measures used petition drive management companies.
  • 33 slots are listed below due to two measures being tied on two separate occasions.
  • California had nine measures in the top 20.
  • Massachusetts Question 2 had the lowest CPRS with $0.08 per require signature.

The main petition drive companies included:

Petition management company # of petition drives managed States those managed petition drives were found in
National Petition Management 7 California, Maine, Missouri, Washington
Progressive Campaigns, Inc. 7 California, Florida, Missouri, Oregon, Washington
Citizens Solutions, Inc. 3 Washington
Kimball Petition Management 3 California
Masterson & Wright 2 California
Voice of the Electorate, LLC 2 Oregon
Arno Political Consultants 1 California
Dewey Square Group 1 Alaska
Lincoln Strategy Group 1 Montana
M&R Strategic Services 1 Montana
NW Democracy Resources 1[1] Oregon
Riester Consulting Company 1 Arizona
Click here for a state by state breakdown!

See also



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