The Tuesday Count: Citizen initiatives monopolize ballot measure developments across the country

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July 17, 2012

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Edited by Al Ortiz

As the summer months heat up, so do the ballot measure certifications. The second week of July saw three additional measures added to the ballot as more statewide questions continue to gush in to the Tuesday Count.

With most of the 2012 state legislative sessions adjourned for the year, it comes as no surprise that the trio of ballot measures this week come via the citizen initiative process in three different states. The addition of those ballot measures this week results in a current total of 146 certified proposals in 35 states across the country.

Starting in chronological order, in Maryland, a same-gender marriage referendum was placed on the ballot by the Maryland Secretary of State's office on July 10.

The measure is in response to the enactment of the Civil Marriage Protection Act on March 1, 2012, which will allow same-sex couples to obtain a civil marriage license in the state beginning on January 1, 2013. The referendum will allow voters to decide whether the law will be upheld.[1][2][3]

Maryland is one of two states that allow for only the referendum process. The other is the state of New Mexico.

Then, on July 11 in Montana, a corporate contributions initiative, or Initiative 166, was approved for the ballot by the Montana Secretary of State. The measure, proposed by the group Stand with Montanans, would determine state policy on prohibiting corporate contributions and expenditures in Montana elections. The measure seeks to charge state lawmakers with furthering the state's policy on the matter and ask congressional delegates to support efforts to overrule the Citizens United decision by amending the U.S. Constitution.

To gain ballot access for the November 2012 ballot, supporters needed to collect 24,337 valid signatures from registered voters. In addition, those signatures were required to be submitted by the June 22, 2012 petition drive deadline.

Finally, on July 13, an act to create a seven-person statewide cannabis commission to regulate the cultivation and sale of cannabis was granted a spot on the ballot.

In order to qualify for the ballot, supporters were required to collect a minimum of 87,213 valid signatures by July 6. The measure was part of seven initiatives to file signatures by the deadline in Oregon.

While these measures have had enough signatures counted and verified for ballot placement, it seems one measure's organizers in Arkansas still have a bit of work to do.

Supporters of the proposed medical marijuana legalization question was allowed 30 additional days to circulate petitions after it was found by the Arkansas Secretary of State's office that not enough valid signatures were collected.

The measure would allow the use of marijuana by people who choose to use it for medical purposes. Those who choose to use it for medical purposes would be free from legal penalty.

The group behind the measure, Arkansans for Compassionate Care, have until August 13 to obtain the additional signatures needed.[4]

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]

Petition drive deadlines

Citizen initiative season is anything but over, as less than a month remains before Colorado petition drive organizers must submit signatures for their proposed measures to make the ballot. The petition drive deadline in the state is August 6.

Among the measures circulating for the ballot are:

  • A Water Law Amendment - would implement a public trust doctrine to water in the state. This means that the doctrine would state that unappropriated water in natural streams is public property that is to be used by state residents.
  • A "Personhood" Amendment - would define the term "person" in the state constitution as the start of biological development.

Quick hits

Referendum on redistricting in Maryland appears headed for ballot: According to reports, 56,342 signatures for the Maryland Redistricting Referendum has been verified by the state Board of Elections by Wednesday, July 11. Given that only 55,736 valid names are necessary to send the measure to the ballot, certification appears certain. With 2,000 signatures left to count however, the board has not yet officially qualified the measure.[6]

Minnesota Secretary of State gives measure regarding voter ID new ballot title: Last week, shortly after the announcement of a lawsuit against him for renaming the Minnesota Same-Sex Marriage Amendment, Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie changed the ballot title of the Minnesota Voter Identification Amendment. Secretary Ritchie has changed the title from "Photo Identification Required for Voting," to "Changes to In-Person & Absentee Voting & Voter Registration; Provisional Ballots." Supporters of this amendment have also discussed filing a lawsuit over the change.[7][8]

Proposals with recent activity


Double trouble as possible ballot measure litigation looms in Glendale, Arizona

Two proposed measures in Glendale, Arizona may be heading to court as supporters fight the city over the right for the proposals to appear on the November ballot.

The first of the proposed issues was a measure seeking to reverse the city council's decision to increase the sales tax rate of 0.7 percent, did not obtain the required number of signatures to qualify for the ballot. The city stated that a sales tax approved by the city cannot be put to a vote because it legal for them to implement an increase without voter approval. The city also said that there were errors on the petition.[9][10]

The second proposal was an attempt by residents to force a public vote on the city's lease agreement with the National Hockey League's Phoenix Coyotes professional team. The city said that the group turned in their petition three days late. Additionally, the petitions did not contain the required number of signatures or the all the appropriate information on the petition forms. Proponents argued that the number of signatures required for approval should be based on 2010 election information and not 2008 voter numbers.[9][10]

Both groups have five days to decide whether to take their issues to court. However, supporters of the measure regarding the professional hockey team said, that while it is unclear if the issue will be taken to court, they would still fight against the deal by other means available to them.[9][10]

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

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The Vermont Constitution says that amendments can only be proposed once in a four-year period. When is the next time residents can vote on an amendment? Click here to find out!
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Michigan Supreme Court schedules arguments for Emergency Manager Referendum case: Upon receiving an appeal by Citizens for Fiscal Responsibility of the ruling made by the Michigan Court of Appeals, the Michigan Supreme Court scheduled oral arguments for July 25. The court, however, has not actually granted the request for a repeal but instead will hear arguments on whether to grant the request or take other action. If the request is denied the question will automatically go to voters without further input from the courts.[11]

Recount request filed for California Proposition 29: On Monday, July 9, Prop. 29 supporter John Maa filed a request for a recount in several Los Angeles County precincts. The request comes weeks after supporters of the proposition conceded defeat after a close outcome during the June 5 primary election. According to reports, the official "Yes on Proposition 29" campaign group has denied involvement with the recount request. County Clerk Dean Logan says the recount will cost $5,700 for each day it takes, which could exceed one week.[12]

A new update will be released in late July. Click here for past Ballot Law Update reports!

See also

2012 ballot measures
Tuesday Count2012 Scorecard