The Tuesday Count: Petitions circulate, lawmakers bicker on the eve of a busy 2012
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Edited by Al Ortiz
Once again, the 2012 ballot measure count stands at 56 ballot measures certified in 23 states, and it has been that way for the better part of November.
With the final 2011 election taking place in the state of Louisiana, all seems quiet in ballot measure news. However, in what is reminiscent of the calm before a storm, 2012 ballot question developments are building up for a loud start to next year.
In initiative and referendum states, there have been plenty of signature-gathering efforts circulating petitions for ballot proposals. Already in California, petition signatures are being submitted to state elections offices for verification.
As of November 17, supporters of three potential 2012 propositions have submitted signatures to California election officials. Each of the three propositions address particularly hot-button issues in the areas of labor, redistricting and car insurance rates. The two most recent propositions to file signatures are a State Senate Redistricting Referendum and a Automobile "Persistency Discounts" measure that reprises a $20 million ballot battle from June 2010.
Another ballot issue topic that garners a lot of public attention is same-gender marriage, which could find its way onto the 2012 ballot in Maine. According to reports, Equality Maine, the group behind the initiative, has collected about 100,000 signatures. Approximately 36,000 of those signatures were collected on the November 8 election date, surpassing the required signature number.
Despite the success in signature gathering, however, the group will decide amongst themselves whether to pursue the measure's ballot access by January 2012. The measure would overturn a voter-approved 2009 question that banned same-gender marriage in the state. That 2009 measure banned a legislatively approved law that allowed same-gender marriage.
While citizens across the country are busy proposing their own ballot measures, state legislators are doing the same. In West Virginia, a draft measure was introduced that would add the elected position of lieutenant governor in the state. In addition to this provision, the amendment would allow state governors to serve 10 consecutive years if said governor began his or her term by finishing an unexpired term of two years or less, according to reports.
A two-thirds vote in both chambers of the West Virginia State Legislature is required to refer an amendment to the ballot.
In New Hampshire, a proposed education amendment is beginning to kick up a lot of attention among legislators. Currently, two legislative proposals about education aid are on hold but lawmakers may be voting on yet another similar proposal as early as next week on November 30th.
All proposals, including one by Governor John Lynch, would allow the legislature to set standards for public education such as, targeting education aid to certain communities. However, all vary slightly.
A public hearing on the matter was scheduled for today, November 22, prior to the House's November 30 vote. Some, including House Leader Terie Norelli and Gov. John Lynch argue that the vote is premature. House Speaker William O'Brien scheduled the session to vote on what has been called "Lynch's education proposal" after Gov. Lynch emailed his proposed language to the media in October 2011 without notifying O'Brien or Senate President Peter Bragdon.
In order for the state legislature to place a proposed constitutional amendment on the statewide ballot, both chambers of the state legislature must approve doing so by a vote in each house of at least 60%. Once any such constitutional amendment is on the ballot, the state's voters must approve it by a 2/3 vote for it to pass.
|Proposals with recent activity|
Post-2011 election news
- The last 2011 ballot measure election took place in Louisiana this past week on November 19. That night, state voters approved Amendment 1 with about 80% of 'yes' votes.
- The recently approved Mississippi Initiative 31 eminent domain amendment could possibly face a lawsuit in the coming weeks. Leland Speed, a state businessman, has a choice to make on whether or not to contest the measure in Mississippi Supreme Court. Speed stated that he is "continuing to weigh the options."
SPOTLIGHT:New Zealand election highlights potential change to voting system
There will be an election in New Zealand on November 26 in which residents will not only vote for Parliament members, but voters will also decide if they want to change the way they vote for those members.
The current election system is a mixed-member proportional (MMP) type of voting. Under this system, voters choose both a candidate for Parliament and also a party. The Parliament is made up of 70 members who are directly voted for and 50 members who are chosen off party lists. This is determined by the amount of party votes received. Residents will cast their votes on two questions, the first will ask if they want to keep the current MMP system and the second will ask that, if they do not want MMP, what system would they want instead. The other options include preferential voting, supplementary member and single transferable vote systems. Each implement a different way members are elected and how seats are divided among parties. The current prime Minister, John Key, has noted his opposition to the current MMP system. A recent poll showed that a majority of surveyed residents preferred the MMP system to the other proposed options.
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BALLOT LAW UPDATE
Doe v. Reed injunction ruling: After a receiving a temporary injunction in October, proponents of Washington Referendum 71 (2009) were denied a permanent injunction blocking the release of R-71 petition signatures. The plaintiffs, representing the signers of the petition, have been engaged in a protracted legal battle to keep the names on the petition private. After an earlier defeat, the state of Washington began releasing the signatures only to be stopped by the temporary injunction.
The plaintiffs argue that releasing the signatures would subject signers to harassment. Opponents challenge this conclusion and argue that a transparent process is critical. In its November 16 ruling, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals maintained that the initial release of nearly 140,000 signatures renders the question moot, but is open to further arguments on the question of mootness. The state may now resume the release of signatures.
- The 9th Circuit's decision can be found here.
Wisconsin Recalls and Redistricting: As Democrats attempt to recall four GOP members of the Wisconsin State Senate, a group of Republicans has filed suit over the process. In documents filed on November 21, the group is asking the State Supreme Court to require the recall elections to be held in the state's new legislative districts--a move that would benefit Republicans. According to the state's redistricting legislation, state lawmakers will represent their new districts until new elections are held. Therefore, the plaintiffs argue that if the recalls are held in the old districts, some constituents (those newly added to districts) will be ineligible to vote in their legislator's recall.
| 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
- LGBTQ Nation.com, "Maine gay marriage supporters exceed petition goal to force ballot initiative", November 10, 2011
- Commercial Appeal, "Analysis: Eminent domain battle not over yet", November 21, 2011
- Seattle Post Intelligencer, "9th Circuit says R-71 petitions can be released," November 17, 2011
- Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Republicans sue to place recalls in new districts," November 21, 2011