The Tuesday Count: Election dates change in the west, campaign money racks up in the east

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October 11, 2011

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Edited by Al Ortiz

No new certifications came to fruition this week in either 2011 and 2012 ballot measure counts. However, despite the lull in ballot access expansion, a newly signed bill this past week has dramatically changed the landscape of the California 2012 ballot measure elections.

On October 7, 2011, California Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 202, a piece of legislation that will effectively push every California statewide ballot proposition to the November 6, 2012 general election ballot. Three questions were originally scheduled to appear on the February 7, 2012 presidential preference ballot. Those three questions include a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment, a "rainy day fund" amendment, and two citizen initiatives, one dealing with term limits, the other proposing a tax increase on cigarettes for cancer research.

As those two citizen-initiated ballot measures took their place in the 2012 general election this week, the state of California reached a milestone in its rich history of direct democracy. October 10, 2011 signaled the century mark for initiative and referendum implementation in the state, as California recognized the 100th anniversary of the passage of the Initiative & Referendum Amendment, seen on the statewide 1911 ballot.

The Citizens in Charge Foundation held a day-long event featuring panels, speeches and workshops that explored California's 100-year experiment with direct democracy. The event was sponsored by California Forward, the Citizens in Charge Foundation and the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, among other co-sponsors.

The 100th anniversary of direct democracy in the state was also one of the subjects of the 2011 Briefing Tour of Modern Direct Democracy in the American West.

While the Golden State focused on past and future of initiatives on the ballot, campaigns in support of two Maine ballot proposals concentrated on the present.

A question involving the construction of a slot machine facility in Biddeford and at a harness racing track in Washington County has recently seen plenty of campaign contribution activity. According to reports, Ocean Properties Ltd. is listed as the only donor to the Putting Maine to Work campaign that is in favor of the measure. A total of approximately $780,000 was loaned to the campaign, along with a previous amount of $400,000 to pay for signature-gathering efforts to obtain a place on the ballot.[1]

The only veto referendum on the ballot in Maine has also seen a significant amount of campaign financing. The group in support of the referendum, the Protect Maine Votes coalition, has raised nearly $278,000, and has spent about $171,000, according to the group's report to the state ethics commission. The referendum is seeking to overturn a same-day election registration repeal, LD 1376, signed by the governor on June 21, 2011.[2]

Lawsuit news

A certified Montana 2012 ballot measure is facing removal, pending the results of a lawsuit filed on October 5, 2011 with state district court. The legislative referral under scrutiny, Senate Bill 426, would allow residents to receive refunds of surplus state tax collections if those collections exceeded a certain trigger. The measure was introduced by State Senator Joe Balyeat, who introduced the measure during 2011 state legislative session.

The lawsuit was filed by MEA-MFT, the Montana AFL-CIO and the Montana Public Employees Association, among other groups, who argue that the amendment is an "unconstitutional appropriation of money" by a referred ballot measure. The judge overseeing the case is District Judge Kathy Seeley.[3]

Proposals with recent activity


SPOTLIGHT:Sunday vote in Paraguay allows for citizens abroad to vote

In the country of Paraguay, a referendum was held on Sunday, October 9, which sought to allow citizens living abroad the ability to vote in national elections. The issue was approved by voters with over 90 percent voting in favor. Though citizens approved the referendum, the national congress still has to discuss the issue, then introduce a constitutional amendment, which must then be approved

Government authorities estimate that, at most, 700,000 Paraguayans live abroad, and that approval of this amendment would allow those migrants the ability to have a say in national elections. The current President, Fernando Lugo, noted that the vote was a historical step forward which will allow more Paraguayans to have a say on the future of their country. This amendment was introduced as a referendum in the hopes that it would increase participation in national elections, which currently see very low turnouts. Migrant groups living abroad had also been pursuing this issue, hoping to allow their right to vote. The current constitution, introduced in 1992, bans migrants from voting. The document was adopted shortly after the fall of a dictatorship in the country and the at the introduction of democratic rule.[4]

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Brown acts on several proposed laws: California Governor Jerry Brown (D) has taken action on another round of election law bills, signing two and vetoing three. The following is a breakdown of his actions:[5]

Approveda Senate Bill 202: SB 202 would keep statewide initiatives off the June primary ballot. All initiatives would be placed on the November ballot. Citizens in Charge Foundation rating: Reduces initiative rights.

Defeatedd Senate Bill 205: SB 205 would ban per-registration card pay for voter registration workers.

Defeatedd Senate Bill 334: SB 334 would require "the state ballot pamphlet to include, immediately below the analysis of a state ballot measure prepared by the Legislative Analyst, a list of the five highest contributors of $50,000 or more to each primarily formed committee supporting the measure and the total amount of each of their contributions." Since pamphlets are printed in advance of the election, only the top donors as of 110 days prior to an election would be listed.[6] Citizens in Charge Foundation rating: Reduces initiative rights.

Approveda Senate Bill 397: SB 397 would permit potential voters to register online.

Defeatedd Assembly Bill 651: AB 651 would require petition gathering companies to register with the state and make regular reports.

Arguments heard in Doe v. Reed: On October 3, the U.S. District Court in Tacoma, Washington heard oral arguments in Doe v. Reed.[7][8] The case stems from Washington Referendum 71 (2009) and deals with whether signing a petition for a ballot measure is a private political act or whether the names of signers can be made public. Opponents of releasing the R-71 signatures argue that the move could open signers to harassment or intimidation. U.S. District Judge Benjamin Settle is expected to rule on the case in about a week. He will determine whether R-71 petitions should be permanently sealed from public access.[9]

A new update will be released on October 26. Click here for past Ballot Law Update reports!

See also

2011 ballot measures
Tuesday Count2011 Scorecard