The Tuesday Count: First ballot measure election of 2012 headlines busy week

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May 8, 2012

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Edited by Al Ortiz

It is a busy time in the ballot measure world. The first ballot measure election of 2012 in North Carolina will take place today, where the highly-scrutinized Amendment 1 will be decided by voters. In addition, there were two ballot-certifications and two petition drive deadlines this past week.

The total ballot measure count across the country is 92 statewide questions in 31 states.

The first certification that occurred this week came in Arizona where the state legislature voted in favor of a state sovereignty amendment, paving the way for the proposal's ballot access. The measure would declare state sovereignty over the state's natural resources based on the argument of "equal footing." Natural resources would include land, air, water, minerals and wildlife.

This now leaves Arizona with four measures on the statewide ballot. Citizens can also place statewide measures on the ballot in Arizona, and have until the July 5 petition drive deadline to submit the required amount of signatures needed for their proposal to obtain a spot in the general election.

Illinois joined in on the list of states with ballot measures this week, sending a public pension measure to the ballot. If passed, the measure would require a three-fifths approval by the General Assembly, city councils, and school districts that wish to increase the pension benefits of their employees.

The legislatively-referred constitutional amendment locked a spot on the ballot on May 3 when the Illinois Senate approved it with a 51-2 vote. The State House had previously given its approval.

Ballot measure news out of Illinois wasn't just limited to the state legislature. On May 7, the state's petition drive deadline arrived, signaling the end of the petition circulation process.

There were no known active attempts to place a citizen initiative on the ballot this year. However, groups opposing a 2011 law allowing same-sex civil unions have been gathering signatures for an advisory question regarding a referendum on the law. If this question is placed on the ballot it would need to be approved by voters, then approved by the legislature, before finally being sent to voters again as a referendum. No information has been posted on the Illinois Secretary of State's website indicating if this effort turned in signatures. Stay tuned for more updates!

Meanwhile, in Missouri, the complicated initiative process situation didn't discourage supporters from submitting signatures by the May 6 deadline. In all, signatures were submitted for four proposals days before the deadline.

Initiative efforts that turned in signatures to the Missouri Secretary of State's office included a measure to raise the state's minimum wage to $8.25 an hour; an initiative to limit the annual rate of interest, fees, and finance charges for payday loans; a proposal to impose an additional $1 tax on each package of twenty cigarettes for cessation programs; and a constitutional amendment to require that all municipal police forces or departments be controlled by the local governing body.

To qualify for the ballot, each initiated state statute effort is required to get signatures from registered voters equal to 5% of the total votes cast in the 2008 governor's election. This amounts to 91,818 signatures. Constitutional amendments require 146,907 signatures to be placed on the ballot.

The petition drive deadline won't be the last hurdle for initiative organizers in the state. Read more about this here.

On the west coast, the California initiative process could be just as confusing as Missouri's. Petition drive deadline laws in the state may raise some questions about ballot access for 2012 initiatives.

Featured campaign quotes:
Oklahoma SQ 762 - Support
Speaker of the State House Kris Steele
Letting the governor focus on parole recommendations for violent crimes is a critical component of Oklahoma’s recent progress to build a stronger, more effective criminal justice system.[1]

Oklahoma SQ 762 - Opposition
State Representative Jason Murphey
When you take the governor out of [the parole] process [for non-violent crimes] the people of Oklahoma have no one to hold accountable...[1]

Four major proposed statewide initiatives filed their signatures between May 1 and May 4, with the assumption that they had filed in time to qualify for the November 6 ballot.

However, in advance of every even-numbered year, the California Secretary of State publishes a "suggested initiative deadlines" document. The document works backward from the state's final deadline through the various steps in the qualification process to produce a list of suggested deadlines for the various steps required.

The document is prefaced with a disclaimer, "The following suggested deadlines are not substitutes for California election laws, regulations, or policy. Other factors, such as amending the initiative measure before circulation or the length of time for circulation, will affect the time it takes to complete the process."

If the set of suggested 2012 deadlines is accurate, then April 20 was the last day by which petition sponsors could submit signatures with the hope of qualifying for the November 6, 2012, ballot.

But how set-in-stone are these "suggested deadlines?" Read more about this here.

North Carolina election day

North Carolina Amendment 1 will be decided by state residents today during the May 8 primary election, where eligible voters will chime in on whether or not marriage should be defined as one man and one woman in the North Carolina Constitution. The proposal would also ban any other type of "domestic legal union" such as civil unions and domestic partnerships.

Same-sex marriage is already illegal in the state of North Carolina. The proposed measure, however, would add the ban to the state constitution.

Election results will be posted when polls close at 7:30 p.m. EST as precincts begin to report their totals. Live election results will be posted here, as well as on Amendment 1's ballot measure page, and on Ballotpedia's North Carolina election page under the "Ballot measures" tab. Live tweets on Ballotpedia's Twitter page can also be followed.

Read Ballotpedia's election preview of Amendment 1 here.

Quick hits

  • Petitions for Oregon casino initiatives subject of criticism: According to the Oregon Secretary of State six people have called the office complaining of the tactics used by petitioners to collect signatures. Fairview City Council member Lisa Barton-Mullins has allegedly been asked twice to sign the petition and neither time did the petitioner use the word "casino." However, according to the petition company hired by the casino campaign, canvassers must follow a script that does include the word. The measures in question are Initiatives 36 and 38.[2]
  • North Dakota Legislative Assembly backs figures on Measure 2: On Tuesday, May 1, the Legislative Management Committee accepted and approved the $812 million figure submitted by the Tax Department as the amount of money that the state Legislature would need to set aside for local governments if Measure 2 passes. The figure represents the amount of revenue local governments in the state would lose if property tax was abolished by the measure. The measure does stipulate that the state must use state tax revenues to "fully and properly fund the legally imposed obligations of the counties, cities, township and other political subdivisions."[3]
  • Final poll shows support for North Carolina Amendment 1: The poll, conducted by Public Policy Polling on April 27-29, shows that 55%, of the 982 polled, support the amendment while 41% do not. This is a 1% increase on both sides since previous week's poll. The margin of error was +/-3.1%.[4]

Proposals with recent activity


SPOTLIGHT:Oregon local election next week, wide variety of measures up for vote
Next week, May 15, 2012, Oregon residents in 19 counties will head to the polls to decide on 68 local measures throughout the state, and only a slim number of 7 deal with school bond and tax issues.

The vast majority of measures which will be voted on deal with other issues. Some notable measures include two Jackson County charter amendment measures which seek to allow the county to disregard state rules on land use and development. Strong opposition has surfaced around these measures which many deem would be illegal if they do get approved and would end up putting the county in court, costing residents more money. Also notable, in Clatsop County residents led a successful petition drive to get a measure on the ballot which would ban exotic animals in the unincorporated areas of the county, a measure aimed at circuses. The residents who are in favor noted animal abuses and cruel treatment by circus members as the main reason behind the measure. If approved, a fine of up to $500 would be established in the county.

Also, today May 8, Michigan residents will have 123 measures to vote on throughout the state, 93 of those deal with either school bond or tax measures. Six counties in California will also go to the polls today with 8 measures to be decided.

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North Carolina Amendment 1, to be voted on in the May 8 state primary, would do what if enacted?Click here to find out!
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Colorado kills amendment restriction: A proposed legislatively-referred constitutional amendment has been killed in the Colorado Legislature. The amendment would have asked voters to impose a 60% supermajority requirement to pass constitutional amendments. However, it would have allowed voters to repeal amendments passed before 2013 with a simple majority. The bill's demise came after a co-sponsor of the bill accused a committee member of "hijacking" the legislation. 80 Colorado amendments have been approved in the past 45 years.[5]

A new update was last released on April 25, 2012. Click here for past Ballot Law Update reports!

See also

2012 ballot measures
Tuesday Count2012 Scorecard