The Tuesday Count: Ballot measure language an underlying theme of legal battle
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Edited by Al Ortiz
Four proposals have descended upon the ballot in three states this week, with one measure in the southwest region of the country enduring a rough landing.
A pair of ballot measures in the state of Oregon were granted ballot access just days apart when the Oregon Secretary of State verified the required amount of signatures needed to make the fall election.
The first of the two, a casino proposal, would amend the state constitution to authorize privately-owned casinos and require those casinos to give a percentage of monthly revenue to the State Lottery. According to reports, 116,521 signatures were verified on July 20. A minimum of 116,283 valid signatures were needed by the July 6 petition drive deadline.
The other initiative was a gillnet fishing initiative that would ban Columbia River commercial salmon fishing with gillnets by non-tribal persons and would allow the use of seine nets instead.
In order to qualify for the ballot, supporters were required to collect a minimum of 87,213 valid signatures by July 6. On July 17, the Secretary of State reported that the measure had been qualified for the ballot with 94,304 valid signatures.
A Maryland veto referendum could stir up a debate this year, particularly among the Maryland State Legislature. A redistricting referendum solidified its place on the ballot this past week that would overturn Maryland's congressional redistricting plan passed in October 2011.
With respect to Congressional redistricting, the Maryland General Assembly bears primary responsibility, proposing and passing the redistricting plan as ordinary legislation.
The last certification for this week's report came out of Arizona. For details, see below.
A tale of two Arizona ballot measure languages?
Add one more measure to the 2012 ballot in Arizona.
However simple that process sounds, recent litigation showed it was anything but simple for the latest certified measure.
On July 18, Judge Robert Oberbillig ruled that Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett should not have refused to process the petitions for the proposed Quality Education and Jobs Act, a ballot initiative introduced by the Quality Education and Jobs Committee.
The judge ruled that the measure be placed on the November ballot because according to Oberbillig, proponents of the initiative gave Bennett the correct version of the petition and that there was no evidence that those who signed the petition were misled.
The initiative was previously disqualified by Bennett because ballot language on circulating petitions was different from language that the secretary's office had on file. According to supporters of the initiative, differences between the circulated text and the official text was a "hyper-technicality". Supporters argued that the circulated text was "substantially" the same.
The proposal would renew a 2010 voter-approved one-cent sales tax to provide funding for education for students in the state who meet certain requirements, scholarships for college students and reinvestment in vocational education and new jobs, according to reports.
The constitutional amendment, which won with 64.3% of the vote, was supported by Gov. Jan Brewer, who wanted the Arizona State Legislature to vote to refer the proposal to the ballot as a means to alleviate the state's budget strain.
The fight isn't over yet, as Bennett filed an appeal of the ruling, insisting that proponents of the initiative did not comply with state law. Reports also say that Bennett hired an expert in elections law to spearhead the appeal. Bennett stated, "To leave the lower court ruling in place I think risks huge voter confusion, huge confusion with our offices and other filing offices as far as how we're supposed to process these initiatives."
|Featured campaign quotes:|
|Oklahoma SQ 762 - Support|
| Speaker of the State House Kris Steele
|Oklahoma SQ 762 - Opposition|
| State Representative Jason Murphey
New poll shows heavy support for Minnesota Marriage Amendment: A recent poll released by SurveyUSA shows 52 percent of those polled were in favor of the amendment, 37 percent were opposed, 6 percent were undecided, and another 5 percent stated they would not vote. The poll surveyed 552 likely voters and carried a +/-4.3% margin of error.
Montana Secretary of State finishes counting signatures: On Friday, July 20, the Montana Secretary of State announced the final tally of which proposed measures made it to the ballot and which did not. According to the state's website, only two citizen backed measures will be on this fall's ballot. The first is a veto referendum, IR-124 and the second is an initiated state statute, I-166. There were four other possible measures that submitted signatures but did not meet the minimum requirements to appear on the ballot.
|Proposals with recent activity|
King County Youth Center upgrade headed to August ballot
On August 7, county voters will decide if they want an increase of $.07 per $1,000 of assessed value added to their current property tax rate. The tax, if approved, would last nine years.
Those in favor of the tax have pointed to the degrading conditions of the center such as the dispensing of brown water from drinking fountains, leaks found in roofs, lack of heating in the basement and other problems as a need for the increase. The center currently occupies four buildings, and if the measure is approved, those buildings would be sold in favor of a new facility built to house all the services and programs which are offered.
Opponents of the measure have pointed out that there are more essential items which need attention in the county and any addition to the property tax rate is too high. Opponents have also pointed out that the levy increase would only pay for building and furnishing a new facility and that maintenance and operational costs would be additional.
BALLOT LAW UPDATE
Lawsuit aimed at Montana Corporate Contributions Initiative: On Monday, July 23, 2012, a lawsuit was filed with the Montana Supreme Court aimed at blocking the measure from reaching the ballot this fall. The lawsuit was filed by state Senator Dave Lewis, businessman Phil Lilleberg, and the group Montanans Opposed to I-166. The complaint filed with the court states that the measure "is not legally sufficient to appear on the state’s general election ballot, and that the statements prepared for the petition and the ballot do not meet the requirements of (state law)."
Legal marijuana supporters in Oregon file lawsuit against Secretary of State: Sponsors of Oregon Initiative 24, Citizens for Sensible Law Enforcement, have filed a lawsuit against Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown challenging the office's disqualification of a large amount of signatures during a sampling process carried out in June. According to reports, 48% of the 122,000 signatures submitted early have been disqualified by the Secretary of State. Robert Wolfe, a chief proponent of the measure, said, "Under the policies of Kate Brown, the Oregon Elections Division works hard to remove every possible signature from initiative petitions and for reasons that make no sense. Instead, they should be working to include as many signatures as possible, thus preserving citizen access to the ballot through the initiative system, as demanded by the Oregon Constitution."
- Initiative 21 (status)
- Arizona Daily News, "Judge: 1-cent tax initiative to stay on Arizona ballot", July 18, 2012
- Prescott News, "Quality Education and Jobs Files Lawsuit Against Secretary of State Bennett", June 28, 2012
- Arizona Daily Sun, "Bennett files appeal to keep sales tax off ballot", July 24, 2012
- MinnPost.com "New marriage-poll results: a dramatic change in voters' views — or a fluke?" July 24, 2012
- KPAX.com "Tallies counted on proposed MT ballot initatives(sic)," July 21, 2012
- Missoulian "Coalition wants anti-corporate personhood amendment removed from Montana ballot," July 23, 2012
- [http://www.alternet.org/drugs/156346/lawsuit_challenges_oregon%27s_signature-invalidating_crusade_to_keep_legal_pot_off_the_ballot AlterNet.org " Lawsuit Challenges Oregon's Signature-Invalidating Crusade to Keep Legal Pot Off the Ballot," July 16, 2012]
- Statesman Journal "Marijuana proponents file lawsuit," July 23, 2012