The Tuesday Count: states continue to solidify their ballots, Arkansas seeks earlier vote

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September 13, 2011

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Edited by Bailey Ludlam

Ballot measure developments have reached a boiling point with more 2011 and 2012 certifications flooding in, a recent court ruling in Mississippi and even a ballot measure shift. In the state of Arkansas, one measure was moved from the 2012 ballot to the earlier November 8, 2011 statewide ballot.

A diesel tax increase question, proposed to generate revenue for highway improvements, was moved to the 2011 ballot after Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe signed a proclamation in late August placing it on a special election ballot. Specifically, the proposal would implement a five-cent diesel tax to an existing bond issue in the state. This leaves only two ballot measures on the Arkansas 2012 statewide ballot.

Along with the certification of two ballot measures in Maine, the changes bring the 2011 count to a total of 34 ballot measures in nine states. A same-day registration veto referendum, to appear as Question 1, would overturn a same-day election registration repeal signed by the Maine Governor on June 21, 2011. Question 1 marks the second veto referendum to qualify for the 2011 ballot; the exact same number that were found on the ballot in the last odd-numbered election year in 2009.

The other ballot measure certification in Maine was Question 4, a measure to amend the Maine Constitution to change the years of redistricting the lawmaking body, congressional districts and county commissioner districts after 2013 from 2023 and every 10th years after that to 2021 and every 10th year after that.

A total of four ballot questions will now appear on the Maine 2011 statewide ballot.

The Mississippi 2011 ballot measure count remained unchanged in the past week due to a court ruling that denied a request to remove a "personhood" amendment from the ballot. The measure would add language to the Mississippi Constitution that defines a person at "the moment of fertilization."

In the court ruling, the Mississippi Supreme Court stated: "Just as this Court cannot prohibit legislators from offering proposals in the House or Senate, this Court cannot impede voters from submitting proposals through the voter initiative process."

While 2011 makes noise, 2012 refuses to be outdone with ballot certification increases. The North Carolina State Senate approved a same sex marriage amendment for ballot access on September 13, one day after the North Carolina House of Representatives voted to do the same. The proposed measure would amend the state constitution to define marriage as between one man and one woman.

This amendment is the second of its kind to be placed on the 2012 ballot; the other being in Minnesota. At least 10 other questions dealing with the topic of same-sex marriage have been proposed for statewide ballots in 2012.

The 2012 ballot measure count now stands at 57 statewide measures in 23 states.

As reported last week, hundreds of initiatives poured in from supporters to kick off the 2012 initiative circulation season. Already, 23 initiatives in Massachusetts were given the go-ahead to begin signature collection. 31 initiatives were originally filed.

The eight initiatives that were not approved for circulation can be found here, with the exception of two measures. Those measures were part of six different filings of a charitable solicitation regulation initiative. Two of those six proposals were rejected, with the attorney general stating that those versions of the initiative infringed on freedom of speech.

Proposals with recent activity


SPOTLIGHT:Red Light camera measures continue to cause debate
In Albuquerque, New Mexico a ballot measure set for the October 3 election has caused further controversy regarding red light cameras in cities.

According to reports, the main point of contention is that the red light camera company, Redflex, has poured $45,000 into the group Safe Roads Albuquerque which is spearheading the campaign to keep the cameras in place. One city councilor, Ken Sanchez, noted that he was not surprised that the company has contributed so much money. Sanchez argued that the company has made approximately $17.5 million in the five years that the cameras have been in place, so of course they would contribute to the campaign in an effort to keep them.

Although the public is scheduled to weigh in on the controversial topic, the city council will still make the final decision to keep or remove the cameras. City council members noted that they would likely side with the public's opinion.[1]

Elsewhere, in Bellingham, Washington, a lawsuit spurred by the camera company ATS to remove a red light camera measure from the ballot was semi successful. The final ruling in the case requires that the issue remain on the ballot for November, but the measure will no longer have a legally binding effect. Opponents to the cameras, though disappointed with the final outcome, noted that they were glad that at least residents would have their voices heard. ATS tried to remove the issue from the ballot entirely, but their claim was dismissed. The city of Longview will also have an advisory question about red light cameras on their November ballot.

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In a July Ohio Senate Bill 5 poll, voters were asked about their support for Senate Bill 5. How many opposed the collective bargaining law?
Click to find out!
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Florida Amendment 6 challenge: On Friday, September 9, U.S. District Judge Ursula Ungaro rejected a lawsuit filed by U.S. Reps. Corrine Brown and Mario Diaz-Balart against Amendment 6. Publically, Brown and Diaz-Balart have argued that it would hinder the ability of minority voters to elect candidates of their choice. During oral arguments last week, their attornies argued that the fair redistricting amendment unconstitutionally curtails the Legislature's authority under the Elections Clause and attempts to dictate election outcomes.[2]

However, in her 22-page opinion, Judge Ungaroo ultimately found that the amendment was a "valid regulation of the legislative process under the Elections Clause." An appeal has been promised.[3]

Amendment 6 has been tied up in legal challenges since voters approved it on November 3, 2010. The Amendment established new guidelines for congressional redistricting in order to ensure fair districts that are "as equal in population as feasible" and use "city, county and geographical boundaries." The full decision can be found here.

California Election Day bill: On Saturday, September 10, the California State Legislature passed Senate Bill 202. The bill would keep statewide initiatives off the June primary ballot. Opponents argue that the bill is an attempt to place all initiatives before November voters -- a group that tends to be more Democratic than the state's primary voters. Most initiative states place all statewide initiatives on the fall ballot.[4][5] Last week, the legislature also passed Senate Bill 334, requiring the state's voter information pamphlet to list the top donors to each ballot measure.

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See also

2011 ballot measures
Tuesday Count2011 Scorecard