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The Tuesday Count: Citizens' efforts dominate ballot measure headlines across the country
Edited by Bailey Ludlam
Legislative sessions in most states have been over for a while now. So it comes as no surprise that this week's Tuesday Count is filled with citizen-initiated ballot measure news. While there were no certifications this week, in either the 2011 or 2012 totals, it appears that more changes are on the horizon.
Most notably, in Maryland, it is only a matter of time before an official 2012 ballot proposal certification is solidified. On Thursday, July 7, election officials announced that a total of 63,118 signatures were verified for an in-state tuition referendum; exceeding the state requirement.
Although the proposed measure has already exceeded the minimum 55,736 signature requirement, the measure has not yet been officially certified. According to officials, about 40,000 signatures remain to be verified. Linda Lamone, the state elections administrator, said the petition won't be officially certified until July 22.
The veto referendum questions legislation that would allow illegal immigrants to pay in-state or in-county tuition at Maryland colleges. However, in order to qualify students are required to have attended a Maryland high school for three years, as well as prove that their parents or themselves paid taxes. According to reports, the legislation is estimated to cost $3.5 million by 2016.
On the west side of the country, the Washington petition drive deadline arrived on July 8, signaling the end of ballot measure petition circulation in 2011. An estimated 80 initiatives were submitted in 2011, but only three initiative campaigns filed signatures by the deadline. Just one day prior to the deadline, proponents of a chicken cage initiative dropped their efforts after forging a national agreement with the egg industry.
Ohio also saw its petition drive deadline come to a close. Of an estimated eight proposed measures, the proposed health care measure was the only measure to make the deadline. Reports confirmed that health care amendment supporters filed approximately 546,000 signatures, more than the 385,245 needed to make the ballot. The secretary of state's office has until July 26 to verify those signatures.
The proposed health care ballot measure calls for exempting residents of Ohio from national health care mandates which would stop any state law from forcing persons, employers or health care providers from participating in a health care system. It is being sponsored by The Ohio Project.
While those initiatives are nearing the end of the ballot access road, a handful of others are just kicking off their campaigns. In Missouri, marijuana proponents filed a measure to ask voters if they would allow the recreational use of marijuana, as well as regulate it for medical use. Only those who are 21 and over would be able to use, possess and cultivate marijuana under the measure. The proposal has not yet been approved for petition circulation.
In related news, a similar marijuana measure has started circulating petitions in Colorado. Despite protests from other marijuana supporters who claim the measure is flawed, signature collection began on July 7.
Meanwhile, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a legal challenge to a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment regarding public prayer. The measure is scheduled to appear on the Missouri 2012 ballot. The lawsuit, filed in Cole County, requests that the "misleading" ballot summary be either be rewritten or taken off the ballot completely.
|Proposals with recent activity|
SPOTLIGHT:Local elections strike two states - California and Wisconsin
Two issues will be voted on today in Esparto School District, California and the Omro School District, Wisconsin. Residents in the Esparto School District of California will be asked to approve a parcel tax in the district at a rate of $100 a year for a period of five years. The additional money generated from this tax would go towards the costs of student transportation, athletics, and primary and elective school programs in the district. Residents in the Omro School District on Wisconsin will be asked for approval of a bond in the amount of $1 million. The school district had asked in April for the same bond amount but it was defeated by residents. If approved, the bond money would go towards facility improvement projects int he district.
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BALLOT LAW UPDATE
Court actions concerning I&R: After hearing arguments in May, the California First District Court of Appeals has issued a ruling in Ni v Slocum which prohibits electronic signature collection in California. Verafirma founder Michael Ni filed the suit, challenging San Mateo County's rejection of an electronic signature in favor of Proposition 19. However, in its June 30 decision, the court ruled that the term "affix," as used in California law, implies a physical signature. The full opinion can be found here.
Bills to watch: AB 448, much like the recently shelved AB 481, would require petition circulators to wear a badge designating whether they are a paid or volunteer worker. Unlike AB 481, the bill also requires the badge to identify where in California the circulator is registered to vote. While the law does not require the circulator to be registered, unregistered circulators would be identified as "NOT REGISTERED TO VOTE." The bill's sponsor, Sen. Mark DeSaulnier (D), placed AB 481 in the "inactive file" after a house committee passed SB 448. SB 448 has already passed the California State Senate. Citizens in Charge Foundation rating: Reduces initiative rights.
| 2011 ballot measures|
|Tuesday Count • 2011 Scorecard|
- 2011 ballot measures and 2012 ballot measures
- Local ballot measure elections in 2011
- Potential 2011 ballot measures and Potential 2012 ballot measures
- The Republic, "Missouri pot advocates to pursue 2012 ballot measure to legalize drug, regulate medical use," July 7, 2011
- Metropolitan News-Enterprise, "C.A. Rejects Bid to Count Online Signature on Initiative Petition," July 5, 2011
- Ballot Access News, "California State Court of Appeals Construes Election Code to Bar Electronic Signatures on Petitions," July 1, 2011
- Ballot Access News, "Electronic Signatures on Petitions Case Argued in California State Court of Appeals," May 10, 2011
- Mercury News, "Attention, voters. You better start practicing your e-signature," May 7, 2010
- California Assembly Bill 448, Bill History (dead link)
- California Assembly Bill 481, Bill History (dead link)