Writing:Naming a ballot measure article
State ballot measure articles require 4 key pieces of information.
- State name
- Descriptive title
- Official ballot number or letter
- Ballot year
State name: This refers to the state in which the measure will appear on the ballot or the state in which the measure has been proposed.
(Example: Michigan, Arizona, Maine...)
Descriptive title: Descriptive language provides readers a quick glimpse of what the measure is about. The descriptive title should be neutral.
(Example: "Michigan Stem Cell Initiative").
In some states an initiative may be filed with a descriptive title but beware of biased wording. If that measure is constantly referred to by media, supporters and opponents by wording that may be considered biased but there is no other commonly used term to describe it, put the descriptive title in quotes.
(Example: Alabama "Sharia Law Amendment" (2012)).
Official ballot number or letter: The only measures that feature an "official ballot number or letter" are those that have been certified to appear on the ballot. The state generally assigns this number either shortly after certification or just prior to the election. When an official number or letter is released, update the title and execute a text replace.
(Example: "Arkansas One Year Legislation Appropriation, Proposed Constitutional Amendment 2 (2008)").
The official ballot number/letter format varies from state to state. Some use letters, some use numbers, some use the term "Proposition," "Issue," "Amendment," etc.
Ballot year: For ballot measures that appear on the November general election ballots this process is straightforward. Add the year in which the measure is scheduled to appear on the ballot in parentheses.
(Example: Arkansas One Year Legislation Appropriation, Proposed Constitutional Amendment 2 (2008))
For measures scheduled to appear on ballots other than the November general election - this may include primaries and special elections - add the month and the year in which the measure is scheduled to appear on the ballot in parentheses.
(Example: Louisiana TOPS Scholarship Program, Amendment 1 (October 2011))
Though the general naming conventions for Ballotpedia state that you should not capitalize second and subsequent words unless the title is a proper noun (such as a name) or is otherwise almost always capitalized, ballot measure articles are an exception to this rule.
For ballot measure articles, you should capitalize all the words in a page title with the exceptions of a, the, of and similar words.
- Incorrect: "Colorado tax amendment, measure 2 (2013)"
- Correct: "Colorado Tax Amendment, Measure 2 (2013)"
Ballot measure changes
- Sometimes, ballot measure proponents circulate petitions to put a ballot measure on the ballot in a specific year, but for various reasons, such as legal challenges, opponents of the measure succeed in keeping off the ballot that year.
- However, as the legal challenges wind their way through the courts, a judge may eventually order that the measure be placed on the ballot in a future year.
- When this happens, an editor should simply rename the article to reflect the actual year that the measure appears on the ballot.
Updating article titles
Typically, a state government does not give a ballot number to an initiative until the measure has qualified for the ballot. That means that during the period when the initiative has been proposed and is collecting signatures, the Ballotpedia article about the measure will be a descriptive phrase--often, the descriptive phrase that the measure's supporters use to refer to it.
However, once a measure has been certified for the ballot and given a number, it should be renamed with its official ballot number.
Start a page
Enter a headline below to start an article. From more information, see our introductory tutorial.