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Ballot Law Update: Semi-annual summary

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By Josh Altic

The first half of 2014 has seen a wide range of changes and attempted changes to ballot law across the nation, with some proposed laws seeking to expand the initiative and referendum process and others attempting to restrict it. For example, legislators in Georgia and eight other states proposed laws that sought to establish the power and process of initiative and referendum in state constitutions. Meanwhile, in Arizona, a controversial law proposed mandating that voters periodically reapprove any initiative or referendum that directs public expenditures or appropriations.

So far this year, state lawmakers have seen at least 113 laws concerning ballot measures during 2014's legislative sessions; of which 67 were carried over from 2013.

As of June 27, 2014, seven laws were approved and 33 were defeated.

This edition of the Ballot Law Update features a half-year roundup of laws, resolutions and bills concerning ballot measure and recall law. It highlights the laws that have been approved and defeated, as well as laws that could entirely change the dynamic of direct democracy on a statewide level.

The Ballot Law Update is released at the end of each month.


Ballot measure legislation breaking news

The Tuesday Count: 2014 shaping up to be a remarkably light year for initiatives

Edited by Brittany Clingen

5 certifications
114 measures for 2014



Filing deadlines (News)
Birth control (Quick hits)
Wages (Spotlight)

2014 ballot measures
With the passage of each successive signature filing deadline, it is quickly becoming apparent that voters will have significantly fewer initiatives to vote on this year than in those past. The preceding week saw eight state filing deadlines come and go with few ballot measure campaigns submitting signatures for verification and even fewer achieving certification. Petition drive deadlines came and went in Massachusetts, Ohio, Arizona, Oregon, Washington, Nebraska, Michigan and Arkansas. A total of 105 measures had the potential to appear on statewide ballots come November. However, of these measures, only 12 filed signatures by the prescribed deadlines, five of which have been certified.

Out of a total possible 26 measures, no signatures were filed at all in Ohio, Arizona and Michigan. In Oregon, only four out of 32 ballot measure campaigns submitted signatures by the July 3 deadline. Supporters of one such measure, the Equal Rights Amendment, submitted signatures early, and the measure was certified for the ballot prior to the deadline. Even if the remaining three make the ballot, 2014 will feature significantly fewer measures than the average 12 that have appeared on statewide ballots since 1996.

In Washington, a state well-known for active and contentious ballot measure campaigns, only one out of a potential 24 campaigns submitted signatures. Initiative 1351, which seeks to require fewer students per classroom in every grade, is the only Initiative to the People that will appear on the 2014 ballot, if the secretary of state confirms enough valid signatures were collected.

Massachusetts is the only state that has definitively certified signatures that were submitted by the state's deadline last week. Four initiated state statutes will appear on the ballot in November, allowing citizens to cast their votes on measures addressing taxes, environment, gambling and labor. The Bay State traditionally sees approximately four measures on the ballot annually, making this year an average one in terms of the number of measures.

Several petition filing deadlines have yet to pass, including those in Colorado, North Dakota and Oklahoma. However, based on the number of deadlines that have elapsed, 2014 ballots are still likely to be much lighter than in years past.

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2014 Count
Number: 114 measures
States: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, Wisconsin, West Virginia and Wyoming
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