The Tuesday Count: 2011 elections near, final ballot wording cleared

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September 20, 2011

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Edited by Bailey Ludlam

The clock is ticking; there are less than two months until the November 8, 2011 general elections. But keep an eye out, Louisiana and Colorado will inaugurate the season with elections just prior to November 8.

Historically, odd-numbered election years feature significantly fewer measures than even-numbered years. Since 1970 odd-numbered years have had an average of 46 ballot questions. In 2009, voters cast their ballots on a grand total of 32 questions. Although, 2011 does not get near the odd-year average, it does exceed 2009's numbers. A total of 34 questions will appear on ballots in nine states.

However, the state of Louisiana will kick off the election year with five questions on their Primary election ballot on October 22. One question will appear on their general ballot on November 19.

Questions featured on the October ballot include:

Type Title Subject Description
LRCA Amendment 1 State budgets Would redirect Tobacco Settlement Proceeds to the TOPS program
LRCA Amendment 2 State budgets Would allow a minimum of 10% of nonrecurring revenue be applied toward the state retirement systems
LRCA Amendment 3 Healthcare Creates the Patient's Compensation Fund, for the use, benefit, and protection of medical malpractice claimants
LRCA Amendment 4 State budgets Provides for deposits and interruption of mineral revenue deposits to the Budget Stabilization Fund
LRCA Amendment 5 Taxes Would allow for collectors to offer the property for sale with no minimum required bid

Like Louisiana, Colorado's general election will not be held on the November 8th election date. According to state law the general election will be held just one week earlier on November 1st.

Only one measure will appear on the Colorado ballot - Proposition 103 - and already campaigns are underway. Proposed by Colorado Sen. Rollie Heath, the measure would increase the state income and sales tax. Specifically, it would increase the state income tax to 5 percent and the sales tax to 3 percent. Currently, the income tax is 4.63 percent and the sales tax is 2.9 percent.

Just last week, opponents took their fight to the secretary of state after filing a complaint stating that a signature gatherer for the initiative broke the law with "false and misleading statements" about the measure. The complaint was filed by Jon Caldara, president of the Independence Institute, citing a video in which that signature gatherer states the ballot proposal would not raise taxes. The video was taken by Kelly Maher when the conservative blogger went undercover to find circulation gatherers.

The petition signature deadline ended months ago for three of Mississippi's 2011 initiatives, but following a court ruling upholding the certification of the measures for 2011 the official ballot wording was released this week. All initiatives with updated ballot language can be found here.

Proposals with recent activity

Next week on September 30th, Montana will conclude their petition drive for proposed veto referendums for the 2012 ballot. Two proposals are currently in circulation. The Montana Medical Marijuana Veto Referendum (2012) calls for placing a legislative revision of a voter-approved 2004 medical marijuana measure on the ballot. A Eminent Domain Referendum calls for repealing House Bill 198, which supporters of the referendum say severely restricts property owners' rights and lends more opportunity for corporations to implement eminent domain in acquiring land for profit. In order to qualify the measures for the ballot, a minimum of 24,337 signatures are required.

2011 Briefing Tour of the American West:
This week Ballotpedia's Al Ortiz and Kelly O'Keefe will be touring the states of California, Arizona and Oregon to get an inside look at the Initiative & Referendum process. Among the attendees are the Initiative & Referendum Institute, More Democracy, the New America Foundation and IRI Europe.

In 2010, Ballotpedia attended a similar tour in Switzerland. Read about the international tour here.

Stay tuned for updates on Ballotpedia as well as live tweets.


SPOTLIGHT: Clackamas County urban renewal petition signatures reviewed
The Oregon Secretary of State ruled that the Clackamas County Auditor erroneously accepted three signatures when verifying a petition for an urban renewal district in the county; noting that the three accepted signatures were actually not valid. The director of elections stated that the County should have gone through all the remaining 175 questionable signatures rather than just stop when the needed amount was reached. The Secretary's office will send a representative to the County to oversee the review of the remaining signatures; the review will be open to the public. This will not remove the issue from the ballot, it will just give a final tally of the valid signatures obtained by the petition and allow for someone to take the issue to court if they thought it necessary.[1]

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How many initiatives have been certified for the 2011 ballot?
Click to find out!
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Proposition 8 Video Release: A Federal Judge, James Ware, has ruled that footage of court hearings on California Proposition 8 may be made public. The footage was taken during the legal battle over the measure in the US District Court for the Northern District of California. Prior to trial, Walker had ruled that the proceedings could be recorded and broadcast live, amending the courts ordinary rules.[2]

The plaintiffs challenged this decision in the US Supreme Court, arguing that it could open witnesses to harassment or intimidation. The Supreme Court ultimately sided with the plaintiffs and prohibited the broadcasts. Although no broadcasts were made, Walker decided to allow the video to be taken for court use.[3]

In ordering the video released, Ware argued that the Supreme Court had only objected on procedural grounds to the court's rule change on live broadcasts. Once the video has entered the record, he argued, there is a "strong presumption in favor of granting the public access to the recording."[4]

  • Ware's ruling can be found here.
  • The Supreme Court's ruling can be found here.
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See also

2011 ballot measures
Tuesday Count2011 Scorecard