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Superseding initiative

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A superseding initiative is that initiative which prevails when two or more conflicting initiatives are approved at the same election. There are two common approaches to resolving the problem of conflicting initiatives. In some states, the measure with the most affirmative votes takes effect and the other measures do not. In other states, the measure with the most affirmative votes prevails only on points of conflict.

A notable example of conflicting measures is California Proposition 68 (1988) and California Proposition 73 (1988). Both initiatives concerned the regulation of political campaign contributions, but Proposition 73 received more votes. After a legal battle, the California Supreme Court ruled that only Proposition 73 would take effect.[1]

At present, 17 of the 24 initiative and referendum states have laws addressing the issue of conflicting measures.

Poison pills

The concept of a "poison pill" ballot measure is related to the idea of a superseding initiative. These measures seek to defeat one or more provisions of another measure by introducing a similar measure that differs with respect to that provision. The "poison pill" clause of the measure provides that whichever measure garners more votes will supersede the other in all areas of conflict.

See also

References

Superseding initiative provisions by state


Arizona

See also: Laws governing the initiative process in Arizona

The Arizona Constitution provides that in the event that two measures conflict, the measure with the most "yes" votes supersedes the other on any points of conflict. However, the other measure is not wholly superseded.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Arizona Constitution, Article XXI, Section 1, ¶ 12

Arkansas

See also: Laws governing the initiative process in Arkansas

The Arkansas Constitution provides that in the event that two measures conflict, the measure with most "yes" votes will become law.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Arkansas Constitution, Article 5, Section 1

California

See also: Laws governing the initiative process in California

If two or more measures conflict, the measure receiving the greatest number of affirmative votes supersedes the other. This provision was clarified in Taxpayers to Limit Campaign Spending v. Fair Political Practices Commission (1990). The court determined that:

When two or more measures are competing initiatives, either because they are expressly offered as "all-or-nothing" alternatives or because each creates a comprehensive regulatory scheme related to the same subject, section 10(b) mandates that only the provisions of the measure receiving the highest number of affirmative votes be enforced.[1]

The court argued that combining initiatives piecemeal could lead to outcomes unintended by voters. A notable example of such unintended consequences occurred in Oregon in 1908.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: California Constitution, Article II, Section 10 (b) & Taxpayers to Limit Campaign Spending v. Fair Political Practices Commission

Colorado

See also: Laws governing the initiative process in Colorado

Colorado law provides that in the event that two measures conflict, the measure with the most affirmative votes supersedes the other on any points of conflict. However, the other measure is not wholly superseded.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Colorado Revised Statutes, Title 1, Article 40, Section 123

Idaho

See also: Laws governing the initiative process in Idaho

Idaho law provides that in the event that two measures conflict, the measure with the most affirmative votes supersedes the other on any points of conflict. However, the other measure is not wholly superseded.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Idaho Statutes, Title 34, Chapter 18, Section 34-1811

Maine

See also: Laws governing the initiative process in Maine

Maine law provides that in the event that two measures conflict, the ballot will be organized so that voters may select one or neither of the measures. If no measure receives a majority of the vote, then the measure that receives the most votes will be placed on the next statewide ballot within 60 days. The legislature may call a special election for this purpose. However, if neither measure receives more than one-third of the vote (for each measure and against both) then both measure are considered defeated.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Maine Constitution, Article IV, Part 3, Section 18

Massachusetts

See also: Laws governing the initiative process in Massachusetts

The Massachusetts Constitution provides that in the event that two measures conflict, the measure with the most affirmative votes supersedes the other on any points of conflict--the other measure is not wholly superseded. The General Court is permitted to group conflicting initiatives together on the ballot. Unlike in Maine, this grouping does not restrict how voters may vote on the questions. The General Court is also permitted to place a legislative substitute along side any measure on the ballot. This requires a simple majority vote in either chamber in the case of proposed statutes. In the case of proposed amendments, this requires a majority vote in joint session in each of two years.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Massachusetts Constitution, Article XLVIII, Parts III & VI

See also: Superseding initiatives; "Poison pills"; List of Michigan ballot measures

Michigan law provides that in the event that two approved measures conflict, the measure with the most affirmative votes supersedes the other.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Michigan Constitution, Article II, Section 9 & Article XII, Section 2

Mississippi

See also: Laws governing the initiative process in Mississippi

If two conflicting measures are approved at a single election, the measure receiving more affirmative votes supersedes the other. Once an amendment petition has been delivered to the Mississippi State Legislature, lawmakers may choose to pass an amended version of the measure. In this case, both measures appear on the ballot. However, unlike ordinary conflicting measures, they are bracketed together and presented to voters in two unique questions. First, voters are asked to vote on whether they prefer either measures or neither measure. Second, voters are asked to vote on whether they prefer the original measure or the legislative amendment. Voters who vote for either measure in the first question are required to vote on the second. Voters who vote for neither measure can, but need not, vote on the second.

If the majority of voters on the questions prefer either measure to neither measure, then the votes on the second question are considered. In this case, the version of the measure that receives a majority of the second vote will prevail. However, the number of affirmative votes in favor of the majority-approved version, original or legislative, must still be equal to 40% of all voters who cast a ballot in the election. This is the state's ordinary supermajority requirement for initiated measures.

The purpose of this process is to allow "no" voters to express a preference on competing measures. This helps ensure that any measure that passes over a competing measure is also preferred over the other by the majority of voters.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Mississippi Constitution, Article XV, Section 273 (7-8) & Mississippi Code, Title 23, Chapter 17, Section 29 

Missouri

See also: Laws governing the initiative process in Missouri

Missouri law provides that in the event that two measures conflict, the measure with the most affirmative votes supersedes the other.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Missouri Constitution, Article III, Section 51 & Missouri Revised Statutes, Title IX, Chapter 116, Section 116.320

Nebraska

See also: Laws governing the initiative process in Nebraska

Nebraska law provides that in the event that two measures conflict, the measure with the most affirmative votes supersedes the other on all points of conflict. The other measure is not wholly superseded.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Nebraska Constitution, Article III, Section 2

Nevada

See also: Laws governing the initiative process in Nevada

Nevada law provides that in the event that two measures conflict, the measure with the most affirmative votes takes effect. The other measure does take effect. If two measures tie, neither measure takes effect.

In Nevada, legislatively-referred constitutional amendments must be approved by two separate Legislatures (before an election and afterward) in order to be placed on the ballot. If a conflicting amendment is passed at the intervening election, the proposed amendment will not be submitted to voters (unless it is re-proposed and twice-approved). If a compatible amendment affecting the same section is approved, the proposed amendment may be submitted.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Nevada Constitution, Article 19, Section 2 (6-5) & Article 16, Section 1 (2-3)

North Dakota

See also: Laws governing the initiative process in North Dakota

North Dakota law provides that in the event that two measures conflict, the measure with the most affirmative votes supersedes the other.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: North Dakota Constitution, Article III, Section 8

Ohio

See also: Laws governing the initiative process in Ohio

Ohio law provides that in the event that conflicting measures are approved, the measure with the most affirmative votes takes effect. The other measure does not become law. For example, in 2006, two ballot measures included competing restrictions on smoking. However, only one ultimately passed.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Ohio Constitution, Article II, Section 1b

Oklahoma

See also: Laws governing the initiative process in Oklahoma

Oklahoma law provides that in the event that two measures conflict, the measure with the most affirmative votes supersedes the other on all points of conflict. The other measure is not wholly superseded.

Oklahoma law is unique in providing a second chance when two conflicting measures are both defeated. In situations where two similar measures conflict, voters in favor these measures' shared provisions may be divided over their differences. This can cause both measures to fail even if both sides would prefer either measure to no measure. In Oklahoma, if two conflicting measure are defeated, then the one with the most affirmative votes (provided it received at least 1/3 of the total vote for/against both measures) is resubmitted to voters at the next election.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Oklahoma Statutes, Title 34, Section 34-21

Utah

See also: Laws governing the initiative process in Utah

Utah law provides that in the event that two measures conflict, the measure with the most affirmative votes supersedes the other. The Governor of Utah is responsible for determining whether two measures conflict--his decision can be appealed to the Utah Supreme Court.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Utah Code, Title 20A, Chapter 7, Section 211

Washington

See also: Laws governing the initiative process in Washington

In Washington, competing measures are arranged on the ballot so voters can express two separate preferences. First, voters choose between either measure or neither measure. Second, voters choose between one measure and the other. If a majority prefer neither, both measures fail. If a majority prefer either, then the second vote determines which measure will be approved.

When a measure has been rejected by the legislature, lawmakers may submit an alternative competing measure to voters.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Washington Constitution, Article II, Section 1


States without superseding initiative provisions


Alaska

See also: Laws governing the initiative process in Alaska

Alaska law does not address competing ballot initiatives. No competing measures have been on the Alaska ballot in the past decade.

Florida

See also: Laws governing the initiative process in Florida

Florida law does not establish procedures for adjudicating conflicting measures.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Florida Constitution, Article XI

Illinois

See also: Laws governing the initiative process in Illinois

Illinois law does not address the approval of conflicting measures.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Illinois Constitution, Article XIV, Section 3 & Illinois Compiled Statutes, 5 ILCS 20; 10 ILCS 5/10 & 10 ILCS 5/28

Montana

See also: Laws governing the initiative process in Montana

Montana law does not address competing ballot initiatives, except by requiring the Attorney General to notify the Secretary of State about conflicting proposals. (The law does not prohibit conflicting proposals.) No competing measures have been on Montana ballot in the past decade. However, two 2002 initiatives, IR-117 and I-145, both attempted to the repeal the Montana Power Authority -- only IR-117 was successful.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Montana Constitution, Article III, Section 4 ; Article IV, Section 7 ; Article XIV, Sections 9-11 & Montana Code, Title 13, Chapter 27, Section 202

Oregon

See also: Laws governing the initiative process in Oregon

Oregon law does not address the approval of conflicting ballot measures.

However, in 1908, two ballot measures were approved, regulating fishing in the Columbia river. Each restricted fishing in only a portion of the river. However, since both were approved, almost the entire river was off limits to fisherman--an effect not intended by voters. Furious, the fisherman flagrantly disobeyed the laws. The Oregon Master Fish Warden, in an attempt to enforce the statutes, began arresting fisherman not only on the Oregon side of the river but on the Washington side as well. This led to a conflict between the states that was initially resolved by a federal judicial injunction against the laws. Ultimately, the Oregon Legislature repealed the conflicting laws and negotiated a joint-management scheme with Washington State.[2][3]

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Oregon Constitution, Article IV, Section 1 & Oregon Revised Statutes, Chapter 250

South Dakota

See also: Laws governing the initiative process in South Dakota

South Dakota law does not address the approval of conflicting ballot measures.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: South Dakota Constitution, Article III, Section 1, Article XXIII, Sections 1-3 & South Dakota Codified Laws, Title 2, Chapter 1

Wyoming

See also: Laws governing the initiative process in Wyoming

Wyoming law does not address conflicting ballot measures.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Wyoming Constitution, Article 3, Section 52 & Wyoming Statutes, Title 22, Chapter 24


References