The Tuesday Count: Arkansas initiative stands alone in week's certification count

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September 25, 2012

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By Al Ortiz and Eric Veram


Add one more to the list of ballot measure certifications in 2012 - for now. With the addition of a highly-scrutinized Arkansas ballot initiative, the count is 185 ballot measures on 38 statewide ballots.

For the November 6, 2012 general election, 173 of those measures are slated for voters.

As we stated in last week's report, it has been a bumpy road for supporters of a citizen-initiated casino amendment in the state of Arkansas.

Legal action and signature gathering debacles have plagued a proposal that would allow the operation of casinos in Arkansas, as supporters are nearing the end of what has been a complicated matter in the Natural State.

However, on September 14, the Arkansas Secretary of State stated that the measure had collected enough signatures to make the ballot. The only catch is, the measure is also under current litigation.

State law requires that a measure be placed on the ballot if that measure is in court at the state deadline for certification. If the court rules against the measure, it will be removed from the ballot if there is enough time for it to be removed. Otherwise, votes would not be counted if the ruling comes too late before the election.

On June 28, supporters of the measure stated that they had more than 70,000 signatures on hand, enough to send the measure to the ballot, if enough valid signatures were counted. Organizers of the measure turned in signatures by the state's petition drive deadline.[1]

On July 23, secretary of state spokesman Alex Reed stated that the initiative had fallen short of the required amount of signatures needed to make the ballot. According to reports, the initiative effort had 30 days to collect those additional signatures.[2]

Then, the group behind the measure submitted new ballot language after the Arkansas Secretary of State claimed the language was insufficient. The supporting group stated that the new language did not alter the law, so signatures should still be counted when submitted by the deadline. Additional signatures were then filed by the deadline.

However, the Arkansas Secretary of State rejected the newly submitted language, causing a lawsuit to be filed by Nancy Todd, supporter of the measure, with the Arkansas Supreme Court.[3]

The lawsuit was filed on August 24, which stated: "The secretary of state's threatened refusal to carry out this legal duty is a violation of his statutory obligations to the petitioners and the people and an abridgement of their rights under Amendment 7."[4]

A ruling on the case is expected soon.

Ballotpedia preview of 2012 ballot measures

November 6 is the day voters across the United States of America will step into voting booths and pull the lever that will record their choice for the office of president.

Featured campaign quotes:
Oklahoma SQ 762 - Support
Speaker of the State House Kris Steele
Letting the governor focus on parole recommendations for violent crimes is a critical component of Oklahoma’s recent progress to build a stronger, more effective criminal justice system.[5]

Oklahoma SQ 762 - Opposition
State Representative Jason Murphey
When you take the governor out of [the parole] process [for non-violent crimes] the people of Oklahoma have no one to hold accountable...[5]

Not only will citizens be voting to make history, but they will also be voting on key issues that they will find at the bottom of their ballot, and what the Tuesday Count continuously tracks - statewide ballot measures.

Ranging drastically in topic, these November measures are stretched out across the country in each state except for 13, so far. For the entire year, there are 185 ballot measures in 38 states on the ballot, and 173 of those are on the general election ballot in 37 states. While ballot measures differ from state to state, all bring a potentially significant impact for voters who may or may not choose to enact them.

Ballotpedia recently finished a preview of ballot measures that have been voted on in 2012 and what is to come in November. To read this exclusive and in-depth article, click here.

Quick hits

New poll questioned on Oregon Measure 85: According to a SurveyUSA poll conducted from September 10 to September 13, 2012, 14 percent of respondents were certain to vote 'yes' on the measure, while 21 percent were certain to vote 'no,' and another 65 percent were not certain which way they would vote. The survey interviewed 700 Oregon citizens and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.3 percent.[6] However, some have questioned the way the poll was conducted. According to the SurveyUSA website, the question that was asked reads as follows: "On Measure 85, which is about a corporate tax "kicker," are you ...? Certain to vote yes? Certain to vote no? Or not certain?" Some bloggers and reporters have criticized the vague nature of the question, however, Jay Leve, the chief executive office of SurveyUSA, defended the wording saying that the firm was attempting to determine who has firm opinions on the ballot measure, so a scant description was necessary.[7]

New survey released regarding Montana's Medical Marijuana Veto Referendum: According to a Mason Dixon poll conducted from September 17 to September 19, 2012, 44 percent of the 625 registered voters surveyed would vote 'Yes' on the measure. Another 31 percent were against it and 25 percent were undecided. The study reported a plus or minus 4 percent margin of error.[8]


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Update on lone Oregon local measure on September 18 election ballot

Last week, Ballotpedia reported on an Oregon local ballot measure on the September 18 Clackamas County, Oregon ballot. That measure sought to provide for law requiring that any decision on light rail in the county would have to be approved by public vote. This measure was brought to the ballot through a successful petition drive by residents, who obtained 9,728 valid signatures when 9,378 were needed.

When all was said and done in this Oregon County, the measure was ultimately approved. The results of the measure showed that about 60% of voters chimed in with a 'yes' vote.

The next set of local ballot measures are slated to appear on the November 6 general election ballot. You can read more about these measures, which are being added by Ballotpedia staff, on this page.

The Tuesday Count Spotlight highlights notable developments from local ballot measures across the country as well as international ballot measures.


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BALLOT LAW UPDATE
California Court of Appeals issues opinion on red-light camera initiative: The California Court of Appeals has just released its opinion of a decision made on August 11 to place an initiative seeking to ban red-light cameras back on the ballot. According to the September 18 ruling, the court says it is not general practice to remove initiatives from the ballot before they are allowed to receive a vote. The opinion further states that if the measure passes, opponents may file a new lawsuit over whether or not red-light cameras can be the subject of referendum. The opinion can be found here.[9]

North Dakota Supreme Court rejects final effort by medical marijuana supporters: On Wednesday, September 19, the North Dakota Supreme Court rejected a challenge by supporters of the North Dakota Medical Marijuana Initiative to place the measure on the ballot. The ruling allows state officials to begin printing ballots around the state, meaning that they will be printed in time for absentee and military voters. The ruling also helps state officials decide what to do when fraudulent signatures are encountered int he future.[10]


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