Arizona Majority Rules, Proposition 105 (2008)

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Arizona Proposition 105, known by its supporters as the Majority Rules Initiative, was on the November 2008 ballot in Arizona as an initiated constitutional amendment. It was defeated.

Proposition 105 would have required that a majority of registered voters—not just a majority of voters casting ballots—approve all citizen-initiated ballot measures that raise state taxes or fees or otherwise obligate government spending before such a proposal can become law. The requirement was sometimes known as a double majority.

Election results

Arizona Majority Rules
Defeatedd No1,395,20066%
Yes 718,076 34%

Results according to the Arizona Secretary of State.[1]

Text of measure

The official ballot language for the measure read:

To protect the will of the people of Arizona for fiscal responsibility through true majority rule, any initiative that imposes additional taxes or spending must have support from a majority of qualified electors in Arizona. Currently, initiatives that increase taxes or spending can pass with approval from only a minority of qualified electors. In the past, big money, special interest groups have pushed higher spending and taxes. Arizona now faces one of the largest deficits of any state in the country. We must protect the will of the people and let a true majority of the voters decide.[2]

Estimate of fiscal impact

The Joint Legislative Budget Committee (JLBC) was required to develop a neutral estimate of the fiscal impact of any ballot measures that appear on the Arizona ballot. According to the JLBC's statement about Proposition 105:[3]

  • Proposition 105 will not affect existing law.
  • If Proposition 105 had been in the Arizona Constitution prior to 1998, five ballot initiatives that were approved by voters between 1998-2006 would not have met its double majority standard and would not have become law.
  • These initiatives either raised a tax or fee or imposed a mandatory spending obligation, and while they were approved with a majority of votes cast, none were approved by a majority of registered voters.

Table 1: Ballot initiatives since 1998

Note: This table shows ballot initiatives on the Arizona ballot after 1998 that raised taxes or created spending obligations that were approved by voters. These are initiatives that would have required a double majority vote to pass, had Proposition 105 been in effect.

Year Proposition # Subject Yes votes
Tobacco settlement money; health insurance 58.1%
AHCCCS; funding; health; nutrition and prevention programs 62.9%
Tribal-state gaming compacts 50.8%
Smoke-free Arizona 54.8%
Early childhood development; $0.80 increase of tobacco tax 53.2%

No initiative, with or without a fiscal impact, received votes from a majority of registered voters between 1998 and 2006.


The sponsoring group was called Majority Rules—Let the People Decide. Some notable members of the group were:

  • Jon Kyl, US Senator
  • Jeff Flake, US Congressman
  • John Shadegg, US Congressman
  • Trent Franks, US Congressman
  • Hispanic Leadership Fund
  • National Restaurant Association
  • National Rifle Association
  • Arizona Free Enterprise Club
  • Arizona Federation of Taxpayers
  • Arizona Restaurant Association

The primary proponent for the measure was the Lincoln Strategy Group, a conservative consultant group operated by Nathan Sproul. Majority Rules has received financial backing from fast-food franchisee Jason LeVecke, Tucson auto-dealer Jim Click, and a number of alcohol distributors.[4] The Arizona Free Enterprise Club supports it.[5]


Supporting arguments

The main arguments put forward in support of Proposition 105 included:

  • The Majority Rule initiative would prevent the passage of initiatives that are supported by only a fraction of eligible voters. In low turnout elections, as few as 25% of the electorate can pass a tax increase on the entire Arizona population.
  • The Majority Rule initiative would require that any initiative that seeks to raise new taxes or spending meet a higher threshold and pass with the support of a majority of all registered voters.
  • The Majority Rule initiative compliments the Arizona Constitution, which requires a two-thirds affirmative vote of the legislature to raise taxes.
  • The opponent of Prop. 105 are the same groups who have supported tax and spending measures in previous elections, according to Steve Voeller, president of the Arizona Free Enterprise Club, who says, "It should really come as no surprise that those who historically support tax and spending measures are the same folks who oppose Prop. 105."[6]
  • The Majority Rule initiative puts the burden on special interest groups who seek to raise taxes to make their case to all voters.
  • It makes sense that the minority shouldn't be able to impose a tax hike on the majority.
  • Prop. 105 would not affect existing voter-approved spending mandates
  • Prop. 105 would make it harder for special interests to use ballot initiatives to raise taxes
  • If a strong majority of voters want new spending obligations or tax increases, they can still vote for them
  • Too many groups wait for a "low turnout" election to pass their massive spending or tax increases on the balance of Arizona voters. Is it really too much to ask that we earn the consensus of a real majority of Arizona voters before passing laws of such great consequence?

NTU statement

According to the National Taxpayers Union, "Proposition 105 would place a strong majority vote requirement on plans to increase taxes or spending. Specifically, a vote of support from a majority of qualified electors in Arizona would be necessary to pass an initiative that imposes higher taxes or spending.

Donors to Prop. 105

Through October 20, the supporters of Proposition 105 had raised about $1.4 million to support their campaign.[7]

Larger donors included:

  • MJKL Enterprises, $630,000. MJKL is owned by Jason LeVecke. (According to an October 10, 2008 story, LeVecke's contributions have grown to $1.2 million).
  • Golden Door Initiative, $267,000 (in-kind contribution for TV advertising)
  • PDG Trust, $150,000
  • Services Group of America, $100,000.
  • Christine Augustine, $25,000.
  • Eric Crown, $25,000.
  • Anheuser-Busch, $10,000.


Opponents organized a group called the Voters of Arizona Committee. The group includes business organizations (Phoenix Chamber of Commerce and the Arizona Contractors Association), hunting and fishing groups (Arizona Game and Fish Commission), public safety/first responder groups (Professional Fire Fighters of Arizona), educational organizations (Arizona Education Association and the Arizona School Boards Association), health care groups (Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association); and a bi-artisan roster of elected officials including Governor Janet Napolitano on the Democratic side, and Tucson’s Republican Mayor Bob Walkup. The League of Women Voters is also opposed.[8][9]

Governor Janet Napolitano stated "the way it works is that if somebody stays home and doesn’t even take the effort to vote their vote counts because they’re effectively a ‘no’ vote. That’s not fair. The vote should be the majority of those who take the trouble to vote." She continued by adding "one practical application is it allows really an effective minority to control the public policy agenda.[10]

Opposing arguments

Main arguments proposed in opposition to Proposition 105 included:

  • Prop 105 says that those people who don't bother to get off their couch to vote get counted as automatic NO votes.
  • If you choose to exercise your right NOT to vote, Prop 105 will automatically choose a NO vote for you.
  • The recently deceased would be counted as a NO vote if Prop 105 passed.
  • If Prop 105 was already in place, a number of initiatives that passed overwhelmingly in previous years would not have become law.
  • Prop 105 isn't about taxes or your money. It attacks the act of voting.[11]
  • It is a "slick scheme to give non-voters a vote."[12]

Donors opposed to Prop. 105

Through October 20, the opponents of Proposition 105 had raised about $1.1 million to support their campaign.[7]

Donors included:


See also Polls, 2008 ballot measures.
Month of Poll Pollster In Favor Opposed Undecided
October 2008 KAET-TV 27 percent 51 percent 12 percent

Newspaper editorials

  • The East Valley Tribune was opposed.

Path to the ballot

Supporters filed approximately 390,000 signatures with the Secretary of State on July 3, 2008, to place the measure on the November ballot.[4] After a random sampling-based review of the signatures, Secretary of State Jan Brewer said that it appeared to have about 226,500 valid names, or about 98% of the 230,047 valid signatures needed to qualify a constitutional amendment for the ballot in Arizona.

When a random sampling check of signatures indicates that the full number of signatures are likely within 5% of the number required for qualification, the next step normally is for county recorders to do a complete name-by-name check. But Brewer said the recorders did not have time to do that before the ballots were to be printed. Thus, according to court based precedents, for the 2008 ballot in Arizona, any ballot measure, including Prop 105, where the random sample projects at least 95 percent of the necessary signatures was presumed qualified.

Double-majority requirements

Some other states impose a more-than-50%-vote-to-pass on ballot measures. These requirements vary considerably from state-to-state, where they exist.

  • Florida voters passed Amendment 3 in 2006, which requires that any statewide ballot proposition proposing a constitutional amendment (no matter the content) must win at least 60% of the vote to pass. Ironically, this measure was approved with only a 57.8% majority.

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