By Josh Altic
Voters cast their ballot on almost a thousand more measures in 2012 than in 2011 and bumped up the approval rating.
A total of 4,650 local ballot measures were decided in 2012. 74% of those measures were approved by voters. With nearly a thousand more measures than 2011, which saw 3,778 local measures, the approval rating increased by a little over three percent. 2011's approval rating was 71.7%.
By far the most measures were seen in Ohio. This state featured 1,471 different proposals, out of which voters approved 1,046. This gave Ohio an approval rating of 71.11%, just a little under the overall average approval rating from all states of 71.6%. Ohio's 2012 rate is almost three and a half percent lower than their 2011 approval rate of 75%. Washington, with 407 total measures, had the highest approval rating, 87.71%, showing an almost 15% increase from 2011. Arizona had the lowest approval rating for the year, 57.89%, with a total of 19 measures having been asked on the various ballots across the state.
To compare more detailed numbers in each state and in the different categories specially reported on by the writer, read the full report for 2012 and 2011. These reports feature local ballot measure statistics broken down into key categories including marijuana legalization, property taxes, sales taxes, County and City bonds, election and voting issues and annexation.
Ballotpedia annually reviews local measures in 11 states. Read more about Ballotpedia's coverage here.
Here are the totals for each state in 2012:
Winning percentage above 70% Winning percentage below 50%
|| Approved 2012 (2011)
|| Defeated 2012 (2011)
|| % approved 2012 (2011)
|| 74% (71.7%)
- See also: School bond and tax elections in Washington
Washington State is one of eleven states that has a debt limit protected by the Washington Constitution. Washington mandates that school districts can only take in one percent for general debt and up to five percent for capital outlays without voter approval. Washington State requires a election for all bond issues exceeding three-eights of one percent of taxable property. School districts are treated equally with other units of municipal government in the state's bond issue laws. Bond issues can be used for capital improvements and new construction only. School districts cannot use bonds to retire debt or fund other obligations.
- See also: Laws governing recall in Washington
The citizens of Washington are granted the authority to perform a recall election by Sections 33 and 34 of Article I of the Washington State Constitution to all elective officers of the state of Washington except judges of courts of record.
A petition for recall must include a specified number of valid signatures from registered voters determined as a percentage of total votes cast for all candidates who ran for the office in the most recent election contest. This amounts to:
- 25 percent for state officers, other than judges, senators and representatives; city officers of cities of the first class; school district boards in cities of the first class; county officers in counties of the first, second and third classes,
- 35 percent for officers of all other political subdivisions, cities, towns, townships, precincts, and school districts not otherwise mentioned; and state senators and representatives.
The Spokane County government is looking to change the way initiatives are conducted in their county. One proposed change is that a city attorney would instead write the ballot question that would appear, instead of those petitioning for the initiative. Another proposed change would be that the title of the proposed measure would have to be approved before signatures could be collected. Opponents say this would not give enough time to collect signatures, but the city said they would be allowed 12 months to collect in case the name approval took a while. Supports say that this process is based on the state's process and would rather clarify the issues and ensure ballot language is clear for all voters to understand. Opponents state that the city writing the language of the measure would introduce a bias, but city council members feel it would rather help not hinder the process.