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Election preview: 2011 state and local measures serve as precursor to 2012

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November 7, 2011


2011 ballot measures
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Edited by Bailey Ludlam

Related election news: Mississippi State Executive racesKentucky State Executive races400 state legislative seats up for a vote

Only hours remain for the November 8, 2011 elections.

Voters will cast their ballots on governors, attorneys general, secretaries of state, state legislators and more. Of the 34 certified ballot measures this year, only 27 will appear on the November 8, 2011 general election ballot in 7 states.

Historically, odd-numbered election years feature significantly fewer measures than even-numbered years. Since 1970 odd-numbered years have had an average of 46 ballot questions. In 2009, voters cast their ballots on a grand total of 32 questions.

Despite the slim ballots, some measures are expected to set the stage for 2012, including but not limited to: Mississippi's Initiative 26, Ohio's Issue 2, Texas' bond measures and Washington's Initiative 1183.

Voters in Louisiana and Colorado have already cast their votes on a total of 6 questions. Only one question remains after November 8th in the state of Louisiana.

Click below to jump to a section:

The states

See also: The complete "breakdown" series and 2011 ballot measures
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Arkansas: Only 1 question will appear on this year's ballot. Dating back to 1991, according to Ballotpedia's database of Arkansas ballot measures, there have been no statewide proposals for voters to vote on in odd-numbered years. That all changed after Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe signed a proclamation in late August to place a retail project bond question on a November 8 special election ballot.

The measure would authorize local areas, cities and counties, to create special economic districts and issue bonds for retail projects in the state.

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Maine: The state of Maine's 2011 ballot is three questions smaller than in 2009. Two of the four measures deal with gambling and they have gained the most attention in the state. One relates to racinos, another regarding slot machines. Question 2 would allow a racino facility at a harness racing track in Biddeford and at a harness racing track in Washington County. Question 3 would allow a casino with table games and slot machines in Lewiston, Maine.

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Mississippi: Mississippi residents haven't seen any ballot measures in seven years. The three ballot proposals this year offer what is being called by reports a "trifecta" of ballot measures backed by Republican supporters. Topics include: abortion, voter identification, and eminent domain.

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New Jersey: In the past two years, residents in New Jersey have voted on one ballot measure per election. This year is no different. New Jersey voters will head to the polls on November 8 to decide on a lone ballot measure dealing with sports betting - Public Question 1.

Despite being referred to the ballot by the state legislature and calling for a constitutional amendment, the measure is not binding. Sports betting would not be allowed in the state until a federal law that limits sports betting in four states is repealed or overturned.

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Ohio: The Ohio ballot has 3 measures, but one in particular has attracted most, if not all of the attention. Issue 2 could be the biggest statewide ballot measure across the country in terms of campaign contributions, possible impacts, controversies surrounding ballot text and campaign advertisements, and the multiple endorsements both in favor and in opposition to the measure.

Voters will decide whether to repeal SB 5, legislation signed in March 2011 that would limit collective bargaining for public employees in the state.

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Texas: Everything is bigger in Texas, and that includes the state's ballot measure count. Texans will get a chance to vote on 10 ballot measures referred by the state legislature, one less than 2009's ballot. A small theme of this year's ballot, a direct result of the ongoing drought in the region, is the state's water supply. Lawmakers seeking solutions to ever-worsening shortages have placed two water-related constitutional amendments on the ballot.

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Washington: Five questions are on the ballot for November 8, and one in particular has dominated headlines more so than others - Initiative 1183. The initiative 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. According to reports, the proposal has received a total of $34 million worth of contributions, from both supporters and opponents.

2,400 questions

State measures aren't the only questions on the ballot. Local measures will also appear on November 8 ballots in Arizona, Michigan, Ohio, Oregon, Washington, Wisconsin, Missouri, Florida and California. No measures will be on the ballots in Illinois.

Ohio by far has the most issues to be decided, with the count at 1,709 throughout the state.

Including the elections held on November 1, in Colorado and Florida, a total of near 2,400 measures will be decided throughout the states.

Political issues

Compared to the last odd-numbered election year, 2011 features many of the same topics as 2009, according to charts compiled featuring measures by issue and 2009 comparisons.

  • Like most recent even-numbered years, taxes are at the top of the list. This topic encompasses all ballot measures regarding the creation, elimination, increase, decrease and exemption of taxes.
Take a look at the full breakdown here.

Campaign contributions

Campaign contributions and expenditures have seen a good amount of activity for an "off-numbered" year. For 2011 ballot measures, the total amount of pre-election contributions have totaled approximately $43.7 million based off of official 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.

In Ballotpedia's analysis of 2011 pre-election ballot measure campaign contributions, it was found that 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.

Campaign contributions will be updated as final campaign finance reports are submitted.


On the night of November 8, detailed election results will be available here. Additionally, you can find a summary of state and local ballot measure results as well as details on recalls, state executive and state legislative races here.

Results will be posted on Ballotpedia as they are released by state officials.

What's next?

November 8 marks the end of most state ballot measures elections but one remains. On November 19, voters in Louisiana will cast their votes on Amendment 1, also known as the Immovable Property Tax measure. The measure would prohibit levying new taxes or fees upon the sale or transfer of immovable property. The State of Louisiana is currently one of 13 states that does not have real estate transfer taxes.

Read more about the measure here.

See also