The Tuesday Count: donations provide big backdrop as 2011 elections take center stage

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October 25, 2011

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Edited by Al Ortiz

No more ballot measure certifications are expected for 2011, as the first statewide election is officially in the books.

In the primary election held on October 22 in the state of Louisiana, three out of the five measures on the statewide ballot were approved. Two measures appear to be defeated but are still "too close to call."

Amendment 4 had 50.59% of voters voting 'no', while Amendment 5 had 51.51% of the 'no' vote, according to the state elections' website. Official election results will be posted as soon as they are made available by the Louisiana Secretary of State's office. View unofficial election results here.

With Louisiana's election all but over, another one is on the horizon. In exactly one week, on November 1, 2011, the state of Colorado will be holding its general election. Although the state only has one measure on the ballot, that proposal has seen plenty of attention. Proposition 103 would increase the state income and sales tax. Specifically, it would increase the state income tax to 5 percent and the sales tax to 3 percent. Currently, the income tax is 4.63 percent and the sales tax is 2.9 percent. The revenue generated from the tax increase would be used to help fund education in the state.

State Senator Rollie Heath and other supporters initiated the signature gathering process to place it on the ballot. Opponents include Compass Colorado, State Senate Minority Leader Mike Kopp and the Colorado Progressive Coalition.

2011, although an odd election year, has generated not thousands but millions of dollars in ballot measure contributions. An analysis performed by Ballotpedia on ballot measure campaign finance this year revealed a total of approximately $43,706,549 in campaign contributions. The number is based off of official online documents obtained from state elections officials' websites. Among the 34 ballot measures on 9 statewide ballots this year, only 11 have so far seen campaign finance activity.

Among states with 2011 proposals, Washington saw the most money donated with a total of more than $37 million. The least amount of contributions this year as of October 2011 came from Mississippi with about $65,000 contributed so far. However, that number will change as soon as reports are made public after the election.

Contributing to Washington's massive number in donations, according to reports, is Costco Wholesale. As of October 24, the warehouse club chain has reportedly contributed about $21 million of the $22.7 million donated to the campaign effort behind Initiative 1183. Initiative 1183 would close state liquor stores and allow state licensing of private parties. Privately owned stores would be required to have at least 10,000 square feet of retail space to sell and distribute liquor.

This makes Costco Wholesale the largest single donor to a ballot measure in state history, as previous reports stated the second largest donation made was $16.7 million by the American Beverage Association in 2010 to support Initiative 1107.

Proposals with recent activity

2012 quick points

In the latest news for 2012 ballot measures:


SPOTLIGHT: an international look - charter amendment referendum vote in Ireland
On October 27, Irish citizens will go to the polls to participate in national elections and also decide on two constitutional amendments.

The first amendment seeks to amend the Irish Constitution so that judges' salaries would be subject to the same pay cuts as other public sector employees. The current judges have already taken a voluntary pay cut, but this would allow future pay cuts to be made if the government determines it is in the best interest of the public. The second amendment would allow the Oireachtas, the Irish National Parliament, to initiate and conduct inquiries into persons serving in either House of Parliament or other matters that were deemed of public importance. Most officials and public employees have noted their opposition to this amendment because in their views, it would undermine the rights of citizens and impede civil liberties.

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How many Arkansas measures currently on the 2012 ballot are legislatively-referred constitutional amendments?
Click to find out!
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Michigan Recall Ruling: On October 20, the Michigan Supreme Court reversed a State Court of Appeals ruling which blocked a recall election against State Rep. Paul Scott (R). In the case, Scott v. Michigan Director of Elections, Scott argued that the petition statement explaining the recall was inaccurate and that petitioners had begun collecting signatures too early. The Ingham Circuit Court originally ruled against Scott before seeing its ruling overturned by the State Court of Appeals. The recent Supreme Court ruling reinstates the Circuit Court's ruling, overturning the Court of Appeals ruling on procedural grounds. The Circuit Court originally ruled that the court's role was not to determine the accuracy of recall petition statements.[3][4][5]

  • The Michigan Supreme Court's ruling can be found here.

Washington R-71 petition release halted: On Monday, the legal battle in Doe v. Reed continued after plaintiffs were granted a temporary injunction, blocking the release of signatures for Washington Referendum 71. Following an October 17 Federal District Court ruling in favor of releasing the signatures, plaintiffs quickly appealed the decision to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and secured the injunction.

  • The 9th Circuit's ruling can be found here.
A new update will be released on October 26. Click here for past Ballot Law Update reports!

See also

2011 ballot measures
Tuesday Count2011 Scorecard